England and Lancashire bowler Saqib Mahmood out for season with back injury

Saqib Mahmood played his first two Tests on England's tour to the West Indies earlier this year. England play New Zealand at Lord's on June 2, the first game of Ben Stokes' captaincy

England's fast bowling plans have suffered another big blow with Saqib Mahmood ruled out for the rest of the season with a stress fracture of the back.

Mahmood made an eye-catching bow at Test level on the tour of West Indies in March, bowling with pace and purpose as he picked up four wickets on debut in Barbados and another two in Grenada.

The Lancashire quick, who had already established himself in the limited-overs set-up, would have been a certainty to make the squad to face New Zealand at Lord's on June 2, the first game of Ben Stokes' captaincy and Brendon McCullum's reign as coach, but is now facing a long rehabilitation process.

The 25-year-old's predicament is a further setback to an England side that have found themselves routinely deprived of their first-choice pace bowlers.

Mark Wood, Jofra Archer and Olly Stone are all on the way back from long or medium-term injuries, while Chris Woakes and Mahmood's fellow Caribbean debutant, Matthew Fisher, are also out of action.

Ollie Robinson's readiness for the rigours of Test cricket, meanwhile, remains an open question after an interrupted start to the season with Sussex.

A statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board read: "After being diagnosed with a lumbar stress fracture, England and Lancashire seamer Saqib Mahmood has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

"Mahmood was unavailable for Lancashire's last Championship fixture due to low back pain and scans have revealed that he has a lumbar stress fracture and will miss the remainder of the 2022 English summer.

"No timeframe has been set for his return. His ongoing rehabilitation will be co-managed between Lancashire and England medical teams."

Red Rose debut

Mahmood has made just 28 first-class appearances since his Red Rose debut in 2016 and has dealt with a series of fitness issues over the years.

He has made just one LV= Insurance County Championship appearance this term, taking four wickets against Gloucestershire, and was a late withdrawal from last week's Roses clash against Yorkshire.

Mahmood revealed earlier in the campaign that he had not pursued an Indian Premier League contract in a bid to hone his red-ball skills and improve his Test prospects.

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