Saqib Mahmood not thinking of Ashes as BBL debut looms

Fast bowler potentially one injury away from a call-up to England's Ashes squad

Saqib Mahmood is excited to work with Trevor Bayliss at Sydney Thunder  •  AFP/Getty Images

Saqib Mahmood is excited to work with Trevor Bayliss at Sydney Thunder  •  AFP/Getty Images

The BBL shapes as an ideal T20 World Cup audition for Sydney Thunder express paceman Saqib Mahmood, who is also one injury away from a recall to England's Test squad.
Mahmood was a contentious omission from the visitors' Ashes plans. He was part of the England Lions side that faced Australia A last week, and will now make his BBL debut in Sunday night's Gabba clash with Brisbane Heat.
Mahmood, part of England's Test squad earlier this year, looms as an obvious addition should anything happen to one of their frontline Ashes quicks.
"I've got a good base, got my loads up in Brisbane. It's just about keeping those loads going for the rest of the BBL," he told AAP. "A lot of the skills I'm practising, I'd probably have to put into use if called up. But I'm purely thinking about the Big Bash at the moment."
That same sentiment applies to next year's T20 World Cup in Australia. However, a productive BBL stint will boost Mahmood's chances of adding to an international career that has featured seven ODIs and nine T20s.
One of 15 Englishmen taking part in the BBL, Mahmood also acutely aware of his country's white-ball depth.
"In world sport, it's potentially the hardest side to break into," he said. "But if you play in that side, it shows your game is in a very good place and you take confidence from that. If I perform for the Thunder, it'll hold me in good stead if I were to come back with the World Cup squad."
The fast bowler jumped at the chance to link up with Thunder mentor Trevor Bayliss, who started England's white-ball revolution and signed off soon after their successful 2019 ODI World Cup.
"Being around this environment, and around Trevor, will improve me as a cricketer," Mahmood said. "I've always wanted to play cricket in Australia ... you obviously get a lot more pace and bounce compared to back home."
Mahmood admitted he needed a crash course from Bayliss and team-mates when it came to one BBL innovation.
"I'm still coming to terms with the power surge a little bit," he said. "For some reason I thought it was double runs, I don't know why. But I'm excited by it. When there's new rules ... I'm someone who likes to make the most of it.
"I like to bowl in those situations [with fielding restrictions]. There's every chance I'll bowl in the power surge, so I'd better get used to it."