Updated February 8th, 2024 at 19:24 IST
'I asked if we could miss the day to pray, Ben Stokes texted me...': Rehan Ahmed recalls incident
IND vs ENG: A teenage British Asian and a practising Muslim in the Bazball surrounding, Rehan Ahmed doesn't face any issue getting time off for Friday prayers.
The England Test team has seen a revolution of sorts as they changed their attitude towards the longest format of the game and introduced a new swashbuckling style of play under the leadership of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum. The new style termed as ‘Bazball’ has been a darling of the media and fans with several former players praising the team for bringing more eyes to Test cricket.
However, it is just not the style of play but the team environment that has also been praised by the players. Young England spinner Rehan Ahmed attributed the success of England to the team environment and Ben Stokes' leadership. England are locked in a battle with Team India with the the five-match series level at 1-1 at the moment.
One thing that is quite remarkable is that the trio of Ahmed, Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir have taken more wickets (33) than the formidable group made up of titans such as Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav (23).
"That just shows how great the team environment is," Ahmed, 19, was quoted as saying in BBC.
"Tommy and Bash, you've seen them come in and not be nervous and that's credit to the team.
"The environment and the leadership we have, it does make you kind of forget the players you are playing against - we just focus on what we need to do." Even in terms of economy rate, the England spin attack is ahead of the Indians.
With Stokes and Brendon McCullum at the helm, Ahmed cuts a relaxed figure.
"They (Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum) just don't care about how bad things can go. It's always about what good you can get out of it.
"So if I bowl four bad balls and get a wicket, that's better than bowling 16 good balls in a row," Ahmed said.
He became the youngest player to play Test cricket for England when he made his debut at 18 years and 126 days old in Karachi in December 2022, signalling his arrival with a match-turning five-wicket haul in Pakistan's second innings.
According to Ahmed, Stokes' astute man-management skills extends beyond cricket.
Ahmed doesn't face any issue getting time off for Friday prayers
A teenage British Asian and a practising Muslim in the Bazball surrounding, Ahmed doesn't face any issue getting time off for Friday prayers, even at the expense of training.
"I remember a time in Abu Dhabi where there was a team day out on a Friday," said Ahmed.
"We had Friday prayers. Obviously me and Bash (Bashir) were there. I messaged Wayno (Wayne Bentley), the team manager, asking if we could miss this day because we needed to pray.
"Stokes messaged me straightaway and said 'come to me whenever you want about this kind of stuff, I understand it fully'. And yes he's stuck by his word.
“Every time I pray he is so respectful, very understanding. Everyone is on this tour.”
(with PTI inputs)
Published February 8th, 2024 at 19:20 IST