Saqib Mahmood signs with Sydney Thunder, awaits England news

Exciting Lancashire quick joins Alex Hales and Sam Billings under new Thunder head coach Trevor Bayliss

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
Saqib Mahmood struck hard in the Powerplay for England, England vs Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Lord's, July 10, 2021

Saqib Mahmood struck hard in the Powerplay for England  •  PA Photos/Getty Images

Sydney Thunder have snapped up England pace bowler Saqib Mahmood for the upcoming BBL with the Lancashire quick joining fellow Englishmen Alex Hales and Sam Billings under new Thunder coach Trevor Bayliss.
Mahmood made his mark in England's recent ODI series against Pakistan claiming Player-of-the-Series honours after taking nine wickets. He also took career-best T20I figures of 3 for 33 at Headingley having been called up as part of the entirely new squad when Covid-19 struck.
Whether both Mahmood and Billings are available for the entire BBL remains to be seen as the size and shape of England's Ashes Test squad is still in a state of flux. Both could be in the mix to be part of an extended and possibly weakened England squad as the ECB continues to manage player concern over travel and quarantine arrangements for the tour.
Mahmood, 24, took 12 wickets in five games in the PSL earlier this year and said he was looking forward to testing himself in the BBL.
"You see full houses. You see close games. The standard of cricket is high, and you get some really good overseas players," he said. "It's a high-class tournament. The main thing for me is to try and help Sydney Thunder win the Big Bash. I've had a look at the squad, it's a really good side, and there's a lot of class, a lot of match winners.
"I'll want to build a good relationship with my teammates and coaches, but the most important thing is to enjoy it and win that trophy."
Mahmood has never worked with Bayliss but the former England coach has a squad with a distinctly English flavour for his first season in charge of Sydney Thunder. Hales was full of praise for the signing of Mahmood.
"He is a great signing, Saqib has really made his mark over the last year," Hales said. "He can bowl very quick and has a good slower ball.
"I think he'll adapt well to the BBL. He's a young lad, but he's an international quality bowler. He'll go well."
Mahmood has been part of the England Lions set up in 2018 and has had a very consistent County Championship season for Lancashire taking 28 wickets at 23.89 in 8 matches, including a career-best 5 for 47 against Yorkshire.
Thunder have contingency plans if any of their overseas players are unavailable but there is also a hope that players could be released to play in the BBL if they are not picked in England's Test XI. Although that is contingent on the nature of the bio-secure bubbles for the England squad and the ability to travel easily between state borders in Australia by December, with borders currently shut to NSW and Victoria due to Covid-19 outbreaks.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo