The embattled England team is reportedly looking for reinforcements, and eyeing its cricketers playing in the Big Bash League (BBL), in a bid to turn around its fortunes in the ongoing Ashes series.
On Monday, the Joe Root-led side lost the second Test at the Adelaide Oval by 275 runs to go 0-2 down in the five-match series. With the Boxing Day Test at MCG six days away, there are reports that right-arm pace bowler Saqib Mahmood, currently playing for Sydney Thunder in the BBL, has been told to be on standby.
According to a report in The Cricketer, “Saqib Mahmood has been placed on standby and is the most likely to be called up ahead of the third Test in Melbourne. While no final decision has yet been made, it is understood there has been contact between the England management and some of the players in recent days and the final decision will be made when the squad reach Melbourne.”
Several English players are featuring in the BBL. With the England Lions side — which was also on the tour of Australia along with the Ashes party — having returned home, the BBL is the only option left to reinforce the side.
On Day 5 of the second Ashes Test, England put up a strong resistance here but succumbed to the pace of Jhye Richardson, who grabbed five second-innings wickets.
Saqib Mahmood, who plays for county side Lancashire, is yet to make his Test debut but was a member of the squad during the recent India series. The 24-year-old also featured in the Lions’ game against Australia A, before moving to BBL.
In what is being seen as insurance to Mahmood taking up national duty, Sydney Thunder on Monday signed young Pakistan pace bowler Muhammad Hasnain for the remainder of the tournament.
The report has also indicated that James Vince, Ben Duckett and wicketkeeper Sam Billings too could be in England’s scheme of things for the Boxing Day Test.
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