Mahmood to make England Test debut as Wood misses second clash with West Indies

By Sports Desk March 15, 2022

Saqib Mahmood will make his Test debut in England's only change for their second match against West Indies, starting on Wednesday at Kensington Oval.

The Lancashire seamer is a like-for-like replacement for the injured Mark Wood, who has been ruled out due to an elbow problem sustained in the first Test.

Joe Root's side played out a draw in that opening contest against Kraigg Brathwaite's hosts in Antigua and have moved on to Barbados for the second of three tussles for the Richards-Botham Trophy.

Centuries for captain Root, Jonny Bairstow and Zak Crawley were stymied by a superb display from Nkrumah Bonner and Wood's injury, on the back of Ollie Robinson being ruled out for the opener.

Root admitted that while Durham bowler Wood would be a loss, he had little doubts about 25-year-old Mahmood's potential.

"He's very mature for a guy who hasn't played a huge amount of international cricket, and he has an understanding of how he wants to operate," Root said.

"He's been very impressive. He's got a slightly different trajectory and will give us a point of difference. He has done that when he's played in other formats.

"Clearly he has good control, especially if the ball moves with reverse swing."

West Indies batsman Bonner, whose recent emergence as a Test player has followed a false start in international cricket in the T20I format 10 years ago, is relishing another battle after his man-of-the-match performance.

"During that 10-year period when I was out, there was a lot of work I put in mentally, physically and technically, and I'm really happy to be reaping the rewards now," Bonner said, quoted by BBC Sport.

"I'm more experienced now, I understand my game a lot better. I always had that belief I could play international cricket.

"Obviously sometimes the belief goes down a little bit, but I kept working and I'm really happy to have come back."

Stokes closes in on select England landmark

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been relatively quiet with bat and ball since returning to the international fold, but he could reach a notable landmark this week.

He needs 84 more to reach 5,000 runs in Test cricket for England; in doing so, he would become just the 23rd player to achieve this feat for the team.

West Indies are one of the three teams against whom he has scored over 1,000 runs.

Roach poised to move up WI rankings

Kemar Roach needs only one more wicket to become the outright seventh-highest wicket taker for West Indies in men's Test cricket.

Roach is level with Garry Sobers on 235 wickets, and the paceman has more wickets against England (54) than against any other team in this format.

Once he moves ahead, he will have sixth-placed Michael Holding in his sights, with 249.

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