Former England skipper Nasser Hussain wants pace bowler Saqib Mahmood, who made his Test debut in the drawn second Test against the West Indies at Bridgetown (Barbados), to not just be used on overseas tours but also in England conditions.
The 25-year-old Mahmood was the standout England pace bowler, taking two wickets in each innings as the Joe Root-led side enjoyed an upper hand on all five days. And, barring the rear-guard act in the last two sessions on the final day of the Test by West Indies skipper Kriag Brathwaite on Monday (IST), England looked set to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
“Saqib Mahmood should be used for more than just away days after he proved he can be skilful as a traditional seamer for England during the second Test against the West Indies," Hussain wrote in his column for Daily Mail on Monday.
“Mahmood needs more exposure, and exposure at home to thrive for England. He shouldn’t be described as a bowler to be used just in overseas conditions. Mahmood should not be labelled as a bowler to be exclusively used in overseas conditions just because he has some skills with the old ball and a slingy action," averred the 53-year-old Hussain.
“As we saw (in the second Test), he’s handy with the new ball too… I noted how skilful he is as a traditional seamer. He pitched the ball up, got proper orthodox away swing and bowled a heavy ball," opined Hussain.
Hussain felt that while the pacer might prove useful in alien conditions but to limit him to just that going forward would be doing him a disservice. He opined that Mahmood has all the attributes to be successful in various guises and in varying situations.
“What we have seen this week is that he’s definitely quick enough for Test cricket and that he was able to hit an unresponsive Kensington Oval pitch hard and get something out of it. He can hurry batters by hitting the splice of the bat despite things looking placid."
The former cricketer added that it was a “good debut" for the bowler.
“No doubt he will be disappointed with his wicket off the no-ball in the first innings, but he has shown he is someone that England should be persevering with. The lengths he produced on the final day in Bridgetown were excellent. Mahmood is someone the England hierarchy have kept their eye on for a long time. I remember talking to (former England coach) Chris Silverwood in New Zealand in late 2019 and he told me he liked the look of this lad."
Hussain felt that with pace stalwarts Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad at the fag end of their careers, Mahmood should be a part of England’s future.