Saqib Mahmood makes Test debut for England against West Indies

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A third debutant in as many Tests for England with Sydney Thunder quick Saqib Mahmood to play with Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson both sidelined.

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Pace bowler Saqib Mahmood will make his Test debut for England in the second match of their series in the West Indies, replacing the injured Mark Wood.

A first appearance for the seamer who played last summer with the Sydney Thunder in the BBL is the only change from the team that drew on a flat pitch in Antigua last week.

Paceman Ollie Robinson remains sidelined with concerns continuing to hover over his fitness.

Robinson had been pushing for selection after recovering from the back spasms that kept him out of the drawn first Test but, having previously aired concerns over his conditioning and seen him struggle with the demands of five-day cricket, England have not risked his selection.

Robinson was hampered by back spasms in the final Ashes Test in Hobart before a recurrence ahead of the opener in Antigua.

England are touring without record Test wicket-takers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who were both controversially dropped for the tour and endured inconsistent selection in an Ashes drubbing last summer.

Mahmood, 25, who hails from Lancashire, has played seven one-day internationals and 12 Twenty20s since 2019 but this is his first chance to show his international credentials in red-ball cricket.

England captain Root said Mahmood was a “great option to have up our sleeve”.

“He’s very mature for a guy who hasn’t played a huge amount of international cricket and he has an understanding of how he wants to operate,” the skipper said in comments carried by the BBC.

“He’s been very impressive. He’s got a slightly different trajectory and will give us a point of difference. He has done that when he’s played in other formats, he clearly has good control, especially if the ball moves with reverse swing.”

Mahmood is the closest to a like-for-like replacement for Wood, and the quickest of those available, although not as consistently able to clear the 140kph barrier as Wood.

The second Test of the three-match series starts at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on Wednesday.

Mahmood will be the 702nd man to play Test cricket for England and the third debutant in as many games after Sam Billings in Hobart, who also played with the Sydney Thunder, and Alex Lees in this series’ opener in Antigua.

He will be hoping for a smoother ride than Lees, the Durham opener who was dismissed for four and six by Kemar Roach.

“I think the challenge for any new player coming into the team is to not make any drastic changes. I think being strong on what you know serves you well for such a long period of time,” was Root’s advice for the left-hander.

“One of the most challenging things about batting at the top of the order, albeit I only did it for a limited amount of time in Test cricket, is the amount of time you’ve got to think on your dismissals.

“It is so easy to overthink and over analyse. So it’s about just making sure you are absolutely clear about how you want to go and play and being as ready for it and as assured as you can be.”

England team for second Test: Zak Crawley, Alex Lees, Joe Root (c), Dan Lawrence, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Foakes (wk), Chris Woakes, Craig Overton, Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood


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