Mahmood in line for Test call-up
Yesterday's injuries to Simon Jones and James Anderson have thrown England's Test preparations into a now-familiar disarray. With Steve Harmison already out of the equation, there is a distinct possibility that Mahmood, who featured in England's recent one-day series in India, will be named in the Test squad on Sunday, alongside Durham's Liam Plunkett.
"You can read what you want into [the decision]," said England's chairman of selectors, David Graveney. "Mahmood will play for Lancashire, because they have a Championship game this week, and the same would have happened with Plunkett, but Durham aren't playing in this latest round."
Graveney added that it would be "very surprising" if England didn't play a spinner for the first Test, perhaps mindful of the corresponding fixture four years ago, when Sri Lanka posted a total of 500-plus in conditions that were more akin to St John's, Antigua, than St John's Wood.
That spinner, however, is unlikely to be Ian Blackwell, who has suffered a back spasm, and is a doubt for Somerset's championship clash with Northants tomorrow. Graveney added that anyone who is not deemed fit enough to compete in a first-class fixture this week will be ruled out of the Test selection. With that in mind, it comes down to a straight shoot-out between Shaun Udal and Monty Panesar.
In the absence of Mahmood and Tremlett, who has suffered an ankle injury to add to the knee problems that beset his pre-season, Gloucestershire's Jon Lewis and the young Leicestershire prospect, Stuart Broad, have been added to the England A squad for the four-day match at New Road.
"Lewis and Broad have both shown fine early season form for their counties," added Graveney, "and I am sure they will be keen to make the most of this opportunity against Sri Lanka."
Possible squad Andrew Strauss, Marcus Trescothick, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Geraint Jones (wk), Shaun Udal/Monty Panesar, Matthew Hoggard, Liam Plunkett, Sajid Mahmood.