England fast bowler Saqib Mahmood said he is relishing the opportunity of earning his first test cap in the upcoming tour of the West Indies after James Anderson and Stuart Broad were both left out of the squad.
Fast bowlers Anderson and Broad, who have taken a combined 1,177 wickets in test cricket, were not selected in England’s 16-player squad for the three-test series which begins on March 8 in Antigua.
Mahmood, who has picked up 14 wickets in one-day internationals at an average of 19.92, has a chance to feature in the test team’s new-look attack which could include Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood.
“We’re obviously missing two massive bowlers in Jimmy and Broady who have been around for the last 15 years,” Mahmood said on Wednesday. “But this is an opportunity for us guys and if I get the chance to play I’m going to try to make the most of it.
“It’s an opportunity for me to go out there on the field and express myself. I feel like that’s the way I’ve got to approach this.”
The 24-year-old said it would be strange lining up without Anderson, who is also his team mate at English county club Lancashire.
“I’ve been in and around the test squad for three years without having played and every time I’ve been there Jimmy has been around,” Mahmood added.
“He has always been someone I can lean on in that test environment if I needed a little bit of advice or just someone I can chat to. To not have him there will feel different.”
England will be looking to bounce back in the Caribbean after their humiliating 4-0 loss in the Ashes series against Australia, a result that led to the departure of head coach Chris Silverwood and others.
Assistant coach Paul Collingwood has been named interim head coach for their tour of the West Indies.