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It’s kind of a 50-50 call: Michael Atherton on selecting Saqib Mahmood or Craig Overton for the Headingley Test

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Former England skipper Michael Atherton opened up on Mark Wood’s injury replacement for the third Test against India in Leeds. Wood will miss the Headingley Test, which starts on Wednesday, due to a shoulder injury. However, Michael Atherton believes the hosts face a selection conundrum between Saqib Mahmood and Craig Overton.

Craig Overton has so far played four Tests, taking nine wickets at 44.77. However, the right-arm seamer is highly capable with the bat, mustering 13 fifties and a solitary hundred.

Meanwhile, Saqib Mahmood is yet to make his red-ball debut for England. The 24-year old has impressed in limited-overs cricket, though, and can generate significant swing.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Michael Atherton said England face a close selection call between Saqib Mahmood and Craig Overton. The cricketer-turned-commentator observed that while Overton is handy with the bat and a good slip fielder, Mahmood was excellent against Pakistan with the white ball. He said:

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“I think they may go with Overton but I think I would probably go Mahmood. Overton offers a bit with the bat and is a good slip fielder while Mahmood looked good in that one-day series win over Pakistan so it’s kind of a 50-50 call. You could also pick Mahmood and then have the choice between Sam Curran and Overton as all-rounders.”

I think Malan is a sensible pick: Michael Atherton

England Nets Session
England Nets Session

Michael Atherton also opined that Dawid Malan is a sensible pick for the third Test of the series. Malan will have a chance to play in a Test on Wednesday for the first time since 2018.

The 53-year-old earmarked the southpaw as a decent player and conceded that Joe Root might want someone experienced in the squad. Atherton also said choosing an inexperienced player from county cricket wouldn’t have been a wise call. He said:

“I think Malan is a sensible pick. He is a pretty experienced guy who knows his game. He has had moderate success in his 15 Tests but has scored a Test hundred in Australia, which marks you out as a pretty decent player. He is a tough nut and I think [Joe] Root just wants someone who is a bit more experienced. It would have been difficult to pluck a young kid out of the county game given we have had no first-class cricket for the last six weeks or so.”

England face a must-win game in Headingley to remain in contention to win the series. India snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at Lord’s to go 1-0 up in the five-match series.


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