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Who is England fast bowler Saqib Mahmood?

Who is Englands Saqib Mahmood?
by Max Parry 4 minute read

Saqib Mahmood is likely to play his first England game on home soil in their three-match ODI series against Ireland.

That encounter kicks off almost immediately after the completion of the Test series against the West Indies, when all eyes will be on Eoin Morgan’s side for the first time this summer. Mahmood was risen up the pecking order of England’s white-ball quicks in recent times, but who is he and what’s his story?

Who is Saqib Mahmood?

Mahmood is a 23-year-old right-arm quick who plays for Lancashire in county cricket. He’s far from a limited-overs specialist, having taken 42 first-class wickets at an average of 28.90. However, it is in white-ball cricket that he has really shone; Mahmood has taken 51 wickets at 25.15 with three five-fors in List A cricket, while in 20 domestic T20s he’s taken 23 wickets with an economy rate of 8.31.

Mahmood took just the one wicket in his only ODI to date against South Africa, as well as one in each of his three T20I appearances on England’s tour of New Zealand last winter.

He is also due to play for Manchester Originals once The Hundred eventually gets under way.

How did Saqib Mahmood start out?

Mahmood got his first county gig in Lancashire’s under-14 side, working his way up through the age-group sides before being selected for the second XI. Despite having not yet made his first class or list-A debut, the slingy fast bowler made his debut for the England under-19s against South Africa aged just 17.

Mahmood made his T20 debut for Lancashire in 2015, making three appearances as the county went on to win the that year’s T20 Blast.

What happened next?

He was the leader of England’s attack by the time the 2016 Under-19 World Cup came round, with only two bowlers taking more wickets than him throughout the tournament.

The same year Mahmood featured far more frequently for his county, playing all but one of Lancashire’s One-Day Cup games. In the Blast he took an exceptional 3-12 against Warwickshire, which included the dismissal of Ian Bell. The Birmingham-born paceman also made his first class debut in this season.

The summer of 2017 was Mahmood’s first significant step back. Injuries meant he played only three games in the County Championship and one in the T20 Blast. But he bounced back that winter, performing well for Lions in the West Indies with the highlight his 3-50 in the first innings of the third unofficial Test in Antigua, including dismissals of current Test players John Campbell and Shane Dowrich.

An injury-plagued 2018 once more prevented Mahmood from taking to the field as regularly as he would have liked. However, 2019 made up for the previous two years by itself; Mahmood, bowling with eye-catching pace and skill, was the leading wicket-taker in the One-Day Cup, taking 28 wickets in 10 games at an average of 18.50. He also featured heavily for his county in their T20 campaign.

His 2019 summer earned him a call-up to the England Test and T20 squad for the tour of New Zealand and both white-ball squads in South Africa.

The Lancs seamer also recently played in England’s intra-squad warm-up game at the Ageas Bowl and was part of the reserve squad for the Test series against the West Indies before switching to the white-ball bio-bubble to team up with Morgan’s men.

Why do England like Mahmood?

Mahmood has many of the raw skills coveted by England’s selectors. He can bowl at high speed and has been known to reverse swing the ball. More than that however, he appears to possess a cricketing intelligence bestowed to very few; off his own back he decided to lengthen his run-up in limited-overs cricket by a step, reasoning it would make his action slingier in that format, while his knack of picking up wickets makes him, in some eyes, the heir to Liam Plunkett’s middle-overs throne.

Challenges for Mahmood?

Injuries. Persistent niggles, groin and side strains among them, scuppered his 2017 and 2018 summers, so he will have to be managed carefully to ensure that they don’t flare back up.

Final Word

Saqib Mahmood is a bowler of exceptional promise and skill who has demonstrated he can cut it domestically. When the time comes and he gets a run in an England side of one format or another, he has all the skills to prove his international credentials too.

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