Darren Gough believes Lancashire seamer Saqib Mahmood could give the England attack much-needed spark if they play on unresponsive pitches in New Zealand.
Sam Curran and Chris Woakes are seemingly vying to join Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad in the England pace unit for the first Test against the Black Caps in Mount Maunganui, with Curran the frontrunner.
However, England have come up against docile surfaces in their warm-up games and Gough – who has been the tourists’ bowling consultant over the last few weeks – thinks Mahmood could be the answer.
“If you need control, you go to Broad. If you need a wicket, you go to Archer – but you need one more in there somehow,” said Root, after New Zealand A scored 302-6 declared against Joe Root’s side on Friday.
New Zealand vs England
November 20, 2019, 9:00pm
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“You need to get another wicket-taker in that team, someone who is going to attack the stumps.”
Mahmood, uncapped at Test level, was due to play in the first of England’s warm-up matches but was replaced by Curran after suffering a migraine.
“He’s different to the others,” Gough said of the 22-year-old, who played three matches in England’s recent 3-2 T20I series win over New Zealand.
“He’s another option when the pitch is flat. We’re working on reverse [swing]. He has the natural talent to do it and he’s keen to learn and desperate to be better at it.”
England also struggled to take wickets against a New Zealand XI on Tuesday as the home side made 285-5 in Whangarei.
“It’s finding a way to suit your type of bowling in all conditions. It’s not easy – I’ve not seen a swinging ball since I’ve been here – but you find a way to attack, even on flat pitches,” said Gough, who took 229 wickets in 58 Tests for England between 1994 and 2003.
“If it’s going to swing, the bowlers have to be prepared. If it’s not and it’s going to be flat, they have to be prepared because the pitches tend to get lower and slower as the game goes on. You have to find a way.
“When people say the pitches are flat, I say ‘OK, you bowl at 95mph and Tim Southee and Trent Boult bowl at 85. They find a way on flat pitches to take wickets in New Zealand. So what do they think?'”
Gough’s short-term role with England will conclude before the Test series – but he remains open to working with the side again in the future.
“Of course I’d be tempted. You’re back with England, this is the ultimate. You’re working with some of the best players in the country,” said Gough, a radio presenter and commentator on talkSPORT.
“I’ve really enjoyed it but I also enjoy my [radio] job, so it’s the best of both worlds and two weeks is a good amount of time.