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ENGLAND fast bowling plans have suffered another huge blow, with Saqib Mahmood ruled out for the rest of the summer with a stress fracture of the back.
Mahmood made an eye-catching Test debut on the tour of West Indies in March, bowling with pace and purpose as he picked up four wickets on debut in Barbados and another two in Grenada.
The Lancashire quick, who had already established himself in the limited-overs set-up, would have been a certainty to make the squad to face New Zealand at Lord’s on June 2, the first game of Ben Stokes’s captaincy and Brendon McCullum’s reign as coach, but is now facing a long rehabilitation process.
The 25-year-old’s predicament is a further setback to an England side that have found themselves routinely deprived of their first-choice pace bowlers. Mark Wood, Jofra Archer and Olly Stone are all on the way back from long or medium-term injuries, while Chris Woakes and Mahmood’s fellow Caribbean debutant, Matthew Fisher, are also out of action.
Ollie Robinson’s readiness for the rigours of Test cricket, meanwhile, remains an open question after an interrupted start to the season with Sussex.
Mahmood has made just 28 first-class appearances since his Red Rose debut in 2016 and has dealt with a series of fitness issues over the years.
The England & Wales Cricket Board said: “No timeframe has been set for his return. His ongoing rehabilitation will be co-managed between Lancashire and England medical teams.”
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