Saqib Mahmood earns place in England T20 squad

Four of England’s stand-in stars have been kept on for the Twenty20 series against Pakistan, with limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan and eight others players returning from isolation to reclaim their places.

A team of emergency call-ups completed a remarkable 3-0 sweep of the Royal London Series after being thrown together in the aftermath of a coronavirus outbreak in the original one-day international squad, with Saqib Mahmood, Lewis Gregory and Matt Parkinson all doing enough to be retained for the three-match 20 leg. Yorkshire’s Dawid Malan also keeps his usual place in the T20 set-up.

Nine spots go to those who have been in quarantine for the last 10 days, with Morgan back in charge and his emergency deputy, Ben Stokes, dropping out to complete his recovery from a finger operation.

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Jos Buttler is also back on duty after a spell on the sidelines with a torn calf, but the likes of Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, George Garton and Sam Billings do not feature in the new 16-man panel.

Saqib Mahmood. Picture: PA
Saqib Mahmood. Picture: PA

At least some of them are understood to have tested positive for the virus, with Billings taking to Twitter to confirm his own case, but England are also mindful of managing the bowlers’ workloads after an extended period of inactivity.

Mahmood was named player of the one-day series after topping the wicket charts and the economy rates against Pakistan, taking nine scalps at an average of 13.66, and looks ready for take off at international level.

Of all those granted unexpected opportunities by the recent space of positive tests, the Lancashire quick has harnessed the moment best.

“It’s been a bit of a special time for me,” he said.

A week ago, no-one was talking about me and I wasn’t part of the squad, but obviously everything has happened very quickly,” Mahmood added.

England squad for Vitality T20 series: Morgan (captain), Ali, Bairstow, Ball, Banton, Buttler, T Curran, Gregory, Jordan, Livingstone, Mahmood, Malan, Parkinson, Rashid, Roy, Willey.