South African fast bowler Wayne Parnell in a statement on Thursday announced his conversion to Islam from Christianity, Times of India reported on Friday.
He has also changed his named to Waleed after his conversion to Islam earlier in January this year.
Parnell confirmed in the statement that he has been studying about Islam and will celebrate his 22nd birthday as a Muslim on Friday.
“While I have not yet decided on an Islamic name I have considered the name Waleed which means Newborn Son, but for now my name remains Wayne Dillon Parnell. I will continue to respect the team’s endorsement of alcoholic beverages. I am playing cricket in Sussex and this is my immediate focus.”
The South African cricket team manager, a Muslim by faith, Mohamed Moosajee said that Parnell’s Muslim teammates – Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir – did not influence his decision to convert from Christianity.
“Wayne already decided a few months ago to follow Islam. The decision to convert was his own decision, but I know nothing of the name change.”
Parnell’s fellow players, reportedly said they believed that he is very serious about the conversion and had not ‘touched a drop of alcohol’ ever since he converted to Islam.
He is the second Christian cricketer to have converted to Islam after Pakistan’s Yousuf Yohana (now Mohammad Yousuf) in 2006.