Following an injury-hit 2018 season which hampered Saqib Mahmood’s progress, the right-arm paceman returned to show his full potential in 2019 and ended the year as an England international.
Having graduated through Lancashire’s Academy to play for England under-19s at the age of 17, Mahmood debuted for his country against New Zealand in the second T20I in November 2019 after a stellar season in county cricket.
The right-arm quick bowler finished the season as the leading Royal London One-Day Cup wicket-taker, taking 28 wickets and starring for the Red Rose as they fell just shy of a place in a Lord’s final.
By blowing away Middlesex’s top-order with figures of 4/38 and following up with 3/46 in the semi-final at Hampshire, Mahmood showcased his talents to the cricketing world live on Sky Sports. They followed a string of impressive performances in the North Group, which included a six-for against Northants followed by another five-wicket haul against Leicestershire (5/14), the first man to achieve back-to-back five-fors for the Red Rose.
And to prove his precocious talent, he shone on the big Vitality Blast stage during the Game of Roses match at Headingley, taking 3/33 to bowl the Lightning to victory over their arch rivals.
He finished with 11 Blast wickets to his name in 2019 and added 31 further scalps in the Specsavers County Championship Division Two, taking the final wicket during the penultimate match against Middlesex that sealed top spot.
Mahmood signed his first pro contract at Emirates Old Trafford ahead of 2015 alongside fellow current First XI players Matt Parkinson and Tom Bailey.
He was part of the Lancashire Under 17s side who won the Royal London one-day Cup and shared the two-day Championship title with Surrey in 2014, and made his first-team debut in the T20 Blast in 2015, playing three times.
He made two further appearances in that competition in 2016, whilst also making his List A and County Championship debuts.
Mahmood took eight wickets in as many List A appearances for Lancashire and the England Lions, including a best of 3-55.
This all came after he took 13 wickets in six matches for England’s Under 19s at the One-Day World Cup in Bangladesh in early 2016. Only two other bowlers took more wickets in the competition.
Mahmood prepared for 2017 by taking part in the ECB’s specialist fast bowling training camp in Potchefstroom, and he ended the year with the Lions in Australia.
He took 12 wickets in first-team Championship cricket during 2017, with a best of 4-50 in the first innings of the season-ending win over Surrey at Emirates Old Trafford as Lancashire finished second in Division One, and was the last man to dismiss Kumar Sangakkara in First-Class cricket.
Injuries restricted him to just one Championship appearance in 2018, but he hit back the following year to cement his reputation as one of England’s brightest talents in all formats of the game.