Saqib Mahmood He hopes that some of the changes he’s made to his bowling behavior over a long period of time on the sidelines will make him better than before he took a long injury break.

This Lancashire fast in line for the first England appearance in about a year in the counter ODI series Bangladeshstarting Wednesday in Dhaka after recovering from a low back stress fracture.

Understandably orphaned after his initial diagnosis, Mahmood used rehab to reduce his run a few paces and shift his alignment while loading lightly at the crease.

There have been moments of uncertainty but overall the 26-year-old is confident he will withstand the rigors of international cricket in a year of Ashes and a World Cup for England.

“After what happened last year, I am so grateful, happy to be playing cricket again,” he said. “When you know it’s going to be a long break, think of all the cricket you’re going to miss – the first Test match at Lord’s (last June), the T20 World Cup and all that.

“The first week no one has anything to say to make you feel better, so I just tried to distract myself from what was going on and keep myself busy.

“During the process, there were days when I felt better than the bowler I was and sometimes just one session goes bad and you start to have doubts. As I have to work on things and improve, I like to think that I will become a better bowler over time.

“When we play this round, people will decide within the first six balls whether I’m the same or not. I’m just trying to focus on what I can do. I hope to be a better bowler from now on.”

I like to think I’ll be a better bowler over time, for times when I have to work on things and improve

Saqib Mahmood

Mahmood, Brendon McCullum and his team, which proved to be a turning point for English cricket last March. Ben Stokes Appointed as head coach and captain, respectively.

The duo managed a remarkable turnaround, so it’s no surprise that Mahmood decided to set his sights back on the hacking Test order, even if he knew it was easier said than done.

But Stokes recently announced that he wants eight in-form sailors for this summer’s Ashes, and Mahmood is eager to make an irresistible case when he returns to red ball action at the State Championships in the spring.

“Red ball cricket feels so far away, just going back to cricket,” he said. “There are five State Championship matches (before England start their summer schedule), I hope to really claim the Ashes by playing three or four.

“Right now the Test team seems very difficult to get in but all I can do is control and that is to get the ball back for Lancashire and really perform.”

Mahmood has good memories of working under Stokes. Pacemaker was the player of the series with nine wickets in a 3-0 clean sweep of Pakistan in 2021 after Stokes parachuted to lead a shadow side when his entire first-team team was forced to self-isolate in the wake of a Covid outbreak.

“In the short time I worked with Stokesy a few years ago, it really suited my game,” Mahmood added. “We would have four chips in the middle of an ODI.

“I haven’t really spoken to Ben (recently). These conversations will happen when the time comes, when I start to feel closer and when I start to feel ready.

“I hope I can call him before the season, knowing what he will want from me if I join the team.”