IND vs ENG 2021: Seamer Saqib Mahmood added to England squad as cover, doubts over Stuart Broad's fitness remain

Saqib Mahmood has been added to England's squad as cover for Stuart Broad
Saqib Mahmood has been added to England's squad as cover for Stuart Broad

England seamer Saqib Mahmood's meteoric rise in international cricket continues as he got added to England's Test squad as cover, with doubts looming over Stuart Broad's fitness after a calf strain.

Saqib Mahmood was recalled to England's white-ball set-up in the recent series against Pakistan after the 16-man England squad was forced into isolation as per COVID protocols.

He was mighty impressive throughout the ODI and T20I series. The 24-year-old finished as the top-wicket taker in the ODI series, bagging nine wickets at an average of 13.67, also accounting for Pakistan captain Babar Azam, twice in two games. He followed it up with four wickets in the T20I series, averaging 28.

Incidentally, it was during this series that Michael Atherton suggested that Mahmood could be a part of England's Test set-up and eventually step into Broad's shoes.

"He looks like a bowler who can challenge across formats, thinking ahead to the India and Australia Test matches coming up," Atherton said. "I'm not wishing Broad away at all, he's one of England's all-time greats, but Mahmood looks like the type of bowler who could step into Broad's shoes.
"He offers accuracy, seam movement and a bit of skill with the old ball when it reverses. He is improving, for sure."

As it turns out, if Broad's scan results ahead of England's second Test against India do not seem too promising, Mahmood could prematurely step into his shoes.

Dom Bess drops out of England squad, returns to Yorkshire

Dom Bess drops out of England's squad, set to return to Yorkshire
Dom Bess drops out of England's squad, set to return to Yorkshire

While Mahmood's career continues to break new ground, the same can't be said for England spinner Dom Bess, who is set to return to Yorkshire.

Bess came into the England squad in 2018 and has taken 36 wickets since, averaging 33.97 in 14 Test matches. However, 25 of these have come away from home, mostly in subcontitent conditions.

Bess had an impressive outing against Sri Lanka earlier this year, taking 12 wickets in two matches at an average of 21.25. But he had an erratic performance in the series against India, where he accounted for just five wickets in the same number of matches, averaging 39.40.

Hence, it's no surprise to see Bess make way for someone in the squad after his recent performances. With Jack Leach also struggling to find his opportunity and Moeen Ali being recalled to England's Test squad, the hosts seem to have all their bases covered by adding an off-spinner to Root's arsenal.

Bess has the opportunity to return to his Yorkshire side and regain his mojo. He could be available to play in their Royal London Cup match at Glamorgan on Thursday.

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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