England’s Saqib Mahmood looking to bring pace in Sri Lanka

Saqib Mahmood is hoping to inject some pace into England’s bowling line-up in Sri Lanka with Jofra Archer and Mark Wood sidelined through injury.

Lancashire quick Mahmood says fellow seamers Archer and Wood – absent with elbow and side problems respectively – have “raised the bar” in terms of fast bowling and make him want to become even brisker.

And the 23-year-old plans to step up in their stead as England look for back-to-back Test series wins in Sri Lanka, having secured a 3-0 whitewash on the island in late 2018.

“I think those two guys have really raised the bar in terms of pace,” Mahmood – who has played three T20 internationals and one ODI for England – said of Archer and Wood to the Press Association.

“A few years ago you would read the reports on England and we were crying out for 90mph bowlers. Now we’ve got two who can get it up past 95mph.

“For someone like me who touches 90mph, you’re looking at these guys and it’s almost like that’s not quick enough anymore! These guys make me hungrier to keep working hard and get quicker.”

England’s two-Test series in Sri Lanka starts in Galle from March 19 and concludes in Colombo from March 27, with both games live on Sky Sports.

“In this team I’ll probably be looking to bowl short spells and try to be as quick as I can be,” said Mahmood, who was called up as Wood’s replacement for the series.

“As a seamer over here you’re not going to bowl the same number of overs you would in England so you have to make the most of them.

“I want to attack with the new ball, but I also want to attack later in the innings and not just be a bystander in the field when the spinners are getting through their overs.

“Whether that’s by getting the ball reversing or by making something by bowling three or four overs as fast as possible, I just want to show everyone what I can do.”

Mahmood’s Lancashire team-mate James Anderson has been rested for the series as he continues his recovery from the broken rib he suffered in South Africa in January.

Mahmood says the 37-year-old, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, has been a positive influence on his career.

“I’m very lucky. A lot of bowlers around county cricket would love to be in the situation I’m in at Old Trafford,” added the Birmingham-born bowler. “Some players dream about playing with Jimmy and I get to do it week in, week out.

“Jimmy’s not going to sit down, put a ball in my hand and say, ‘hold it like this’, it doesn’t work like that. The biggest thing is being out there and taking the field with them.

“There was a time last season where I was in a three-man seam attack with Jimmy and Bunny (Graham Onions), one of us bowling, one of us at mid-off, one of us at mid-on.

“I may not have a great deal to offer those guys but just listening to the conversations they have, their thought processes, was an invaluable experience. As good as you’re ever going to get.” (Sky Sports)

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