Saqib Mahmood can step into Mark Wood’s pacey shoes

Mark Wood has been ruled out of England’s third Test with India at Headingley due to a shoulder injury sustained on the fourth day at Lord’s. It adds the right-arm quick to England’s long list of unfit bowlers, joining Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Olly Stone and Chris Woakes. Having been beaten in such dramatic, disastrous circumstances in the second Test, the last thing England need is to be losing more players.

There has been no replacement called up, with Saqib Mahmood and Craig Overton already amongst the England camp as extra seamers. The biggest worry for England will be the prominence of pace on their injury list, their three quickest bowlers being the damaged Wood, Archer and Stone.

Craig Overton seems a favourite amongst England’s seniority, having made his Test debut on the 2017/18 Ashes tour to Australia and impressed in all three facets of the game. His recent record in first-class cricket for Somerset is remarkable, and his career average of just under 24 is clearly a number that deserves a knock on the England door.

Overton has also added some pace, consistently hitting around 84-86mph, to add another hurrying arrow to his bow and dominate even further on the county circuit. However, the 27-year-old is, somewhat like Ollie Robinson, a tremendous locator of a testing area and utilises the moving ball brilliantly. Such seems to define an ideal Test match seamer in English conditions.

That may be true, but were Overton to be included England’s attack would look very samey, lacking the variety that Wood’s express pace offers. This is where Saqib Mahmood could prove the better fit, armed with more speed than his fellow squad member and an ability to rush the batsman off a back of a length. These skills were on clear display during his man-of-the-series entrance into One Day International cricket.

Mahmood has looked every bit the international pacer since his T20I debut, and the Lancashire man can do more for England than paper over their expanding 90 miles-per-hour cracks. As the Three Lions suffer from an increasing number of injuries and a senior bowling attack that isn’t getting any younger, Headingley could be the start of a long career in whites for Mahmood.

Broadcast Schedule

India v England 2024 Test Series
IND v ENG 5th Test, Dharamsala
7th March to 11th March
Start time: 4:00 am GMT