Saqib Mahmood: ‘There have been solely two abroad seamers within the PSL: me and Dale Steyn’
After coaching at Emirates Outdated Trafford on Tuesday, Graham Onions, Lancashire’s bowling coach, stood an image of the celebrations after the membership sealed Division Two of the County Championship by beating Middlesex in September 2019. “That was my last game,” he famous to Saqib Mahmood, following his retirement from the skilled sport. After a second’s thought, Mahmood twigged: “That was my last red-ball game as well.”
Since that win, Mahmood has made his England debuts in ODI and T20I cricket and has been named in plenty of Check squads. But two days earlier than the beginning of the 2021 county season, he sits additional down the pecking order than he did 18 months in the past. After six appearances in opposition to Eire and Pakistan final summer season, he discovered himself among the many reserves for the Australia ODI and T20I collection, leaving him unable to return to Lancashire and stake his declare in county cricket; by the point choice had come round for the tour to South Africa on the finish of the 12 months, Jake Ball and Tom Helm had moved forward of him within the queue.
Mahmood had little likelihood to dwell on his omission. On the identical day he was instructed he had missed out on the England squads, he was requested if he would think about collaborating within the rearranged Pakistan Tremendous League play-offs for Peshawar Zalmi. He jumped on the likelihood, and whereas his three wickets within the eliminator – which Zalmi misplaced – had been costly, the franchise had seen sufficient to deliver him again for the 2021 version of the match.
The season got here to a grinding halt after 14 matches because it grew to become clear that the bio-secure bubble had burst, however Mahmood made a serious impression throughout his brief keep: used as a strike bowler by Wahab Riaz, Zalmi’s captain, he took 12 wickets in 18.1 overs throughout 5 appearances, and left Pakistan as the competition’s leading wicket-taker.
“The message Morgs [Eoin Morgan] gave to us was that when guys go out and play in these tournaments, we want them to be MVP, leading run-scorer or leading wicket-taker,” Mahmood mentioned. “Something I got from one of the England coaches was that if you want to be in the No. 1 team in the world, you have to show that you’re one of the best in the world.
“The PSL is understood for the energy within the seamers. One of many native gamers mentioned to me: ‘do not underestimate what you’ve got completed out right here’. There have been solely two abroad seamers enjoying in that match: me and Dale Steyn. They mentioned to me that abroad seamers hardly get picked up, and in the event that they do, they do not do in addition to you’ve got completed. I took numerous confidence out of that.”
In particular, Mahmood felt as though he had demonstrated his ability to adapt to different situations. “Completely, [I had] some extent to show. When I’ve performed for England in T20 cricket – and this is not an excuse – I used to be doing a job I wasn’t accustomed to, bowling within the center overs. That was one thing I would by no means completed for Lancashire.
“The PSL was ideal: I was in a new team, so there wasn’t a specific role for me and I was used whenever I was needed. I was open to that. As a learning process it was great for me. During the day, there was some reverse-swing which was great for me. In the night games, I’d been working on a knuckleball over the last 18 months, but you couldn’t bowl that because of how wet the seam was so I was developing another slower ball. I really took responsibility.”
The result’s that Mahmood has been counting down the times to the beginning of the county season, the place his Lancashire commitments will make it unattainable for him to play the second half of the rearranged PSL. He’s considered one of three seamers on pace-bowling improvement contracts with the ECB, giving him common entry to England’s assist employees and that means a level of workload administration from the nationwide set-up, and hopes to play in 4 out of the primary 5 Championship fixtures at the beginning of a busy summer season.
“I didn’t enter the IPL auction this year – obviously you’re not guaranteed to get picked up, but I wanted to balance white- and red-ball cricket. That’s the message I’ve had: they don’t just see me as a white-ball player. This is a good chance for me to get a red ball in my hand and put some performances in for Lancashire.
“It is a huge season for lots of causes. I have not spent a substantial amount of time with this squad over the past 18 months however I’ve come again and fitted again in. There’s rather a lot to play for this summer season, with Ashes locations and T20 World Cup locations, however [in the] brief time period I’ve to remain centered on successful video games right here.”
Crucially, he feels as though he has spent long enough in an England training shirt to feel at home in that environment, having tried so hard to impress in his debut series – the T20Is in New Zealand in late 2019 – that his performances actually declined. There are several talented players ahead of him in the queue for both Ashes and T20 World Cup selection, but if he can find his 90mph/145kph, reverse-swinging mojo throughout the summer then it would be foolish to bet against him making either squad.
“Once I first got here in, I used to be attempting to impress and bowl quick on a regular basis, however in case you have a look at my numbers, I used to be bowling slower in that first collection I performed in New Zealand than I ever have completed,” he said. “That was nearly attempting too exhausting and it set me again a bit. Final summer season and within the PSL, I used to be much more relaxed, and my tempo has been up since that collection.
“I offer something slightly different, and it’s about doing as many roles as I can: early-season, we’ll get good wickets here, but you go away and play on green seamers and there are all sorts of conditions you’re exposed to. You spend enough time around the environment that you’re chomping at the bit to play. I understand there are a lot of seamers ahead of me but all I can do is put performances in here and try and push my case.”
Matt Curler is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98