Cricket-Pakistan tour is a great opportunity for Ahmed, says McCullum

All-rounder Ahmed has featured in just three premier class appearances for Leicestershire – taking nine wickets and making 195 carries – and could become England’s youngest male Test player if he plays in Pakistan next month .

« What kind of fabulous opportunity for someone like him, » McCullum told The Daily Telegraph. “He seems to be really confident in himself.

« He’s 18 and on a tour from England to Pakistan, so there are real opportunities and there will be some challenges along the way, but it’s up to us to find a solution.

« We know he’s not the finished product. He’s still a long way off, but he has something that’s quite special. »

Ahead of their tour to Pakistan, England played a three-day game against the Lions in the United Arab Emirates last week.

McCullum stressed the importance of getting teams together before a tour, saying it helps develop camaraderie in a team that frequently splits up to play different formats.

« One of the lessons we learned from the start of the year is that the team is now very separate from the Twenty20 organization, » McCullum said.

« A lot of our guys go out and do their own thing, so if we’re asking those guys to push the envelope, then we have to bring them together a little earlier.

« A lot of it has nothing to do with cricket, but it’s about breaking down those barriers, spending time in society, playing golf or the pool. Once you’ve had a few days together, you can put the package and start ticking off the technical side of things. »

England’s first game against Pakistan starts on Rawalpindi on Thursday.

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