By: Sattwik Biswal
WHEN English cricket is going through a rough patch tackling racism, a British Asian player Saqib Mahmood is making a name for himself by bowling fast.
After his teammates Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, Mahmood is the new face of British Asian cricketers trying to inspire the next generation with his performances on a cricket pitch.
Most importantly, he is aware of this big responsibility. “If I can play a part in young British Asian boys and girls wanting to come and play cricket in the future then my responsibilities are to be a good professional in that sense,” he told BBC Sport.
Mahmood adds, “Hopefully that encourages enough people and inspires them to take on the game in the future.”
Azeem Rafiq’s revelation of his experiences of racism at Yorkshire and the discussion around English cricket to make the game inclusive can be start to a bright future.
“For Asians and ethnic minorities growing up, we should give them the confidence that what’s happened is a thing of the past and hopefully things can run more smoothly going forward,” Mahmood says.
“With just the topic being raised, more people will point out racism if they see it.
“I know a lot of guys now, that if there was any sort of racism going on, without me having to say anything, a lot of guys in this squad would call people up on it. And that’s the way it should be,” he said.
Mahmood made his England debut at 22 in a T20 against New Zealand in 2019, and in 2020 he was handed his ODI debut against South Africa in Johannesburg. But everyone took notice of his bowling talent during the home series against Pakistan in white-ball cricket.
He had been on England’s radar from a very young age because of his pace, and can regularly bowl at 90mph and above. He too has attracted T20 league contracts from Pakistan and Australia. In the Big Bash League debut playing for Sydney Thunder, he picked four wickets from his first 11 deliveries.
Like his idols, Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee, he too loves to bowl quick.
“The two quicks I remember watching when I was young were Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee,” he says.
“I loved watching them because they’d bowl close to 100mph.
“It was in the 2005 Ashes where I really got a love for the game and I remember Lee was playing, but I also loved watching Simon Jones and Andrew Flintoff and the skill they had.
“Before that I would just watch and play whenever I could, whereas after that, I wanted to get a ball in my hand and try and do what they were doing.”