England captain Eoin Morgan will be no closer to knowing his best XI ahead of next year’s T20 World Cup, after his side sealed a 3-2 series victory in a tightly contested battle against New Zealand.
Lancashire’s Matt Parkinson and Saqib Mahmood were part of the squad that triumphed against the Kiwis, when a repeat of the 2019 ODI World Cup super over was needed to get the visitors over the line.
The competition for places is fierce, and with several rested players returning to the squad for England’s next white-ball action in South Africa in February, Mahmood and Parkinson will be keeping their fingers crossed that they will retain their spots.
After an unspectacular start in the third T20, Parkinson was a star performer in the fourth. He contributed four wickets as England levelled the series, and was arguably unfortunate not to have more, after Pat Brown dropped an easy catch at long-on during his third over.
Parkinson was aggrieved when his economy (47 runs from four overs) took a hit during the third over when Southee took a liking to the Lancashire leg-spinner and hit consecutive sixes. Gregory will have also earned Parkinson’s wrath during the same over when he miss-fielded at deep square-leg to allow another boundary.
There is plenty of scope for his economy to be improved, particularly after promising figures of 3-14 from his first two overs.
Matt Parkinson will need to oust Adil Rashid as the first-choice spinner – no mean feat – to secure a place in the World Cup, but it would come as a surprise to many if the 23-year-old were to miss out on the South Africa tour.
However, should Moeen Ali decide to come out of international hibernation, Parkinson could be shifted further down the pecking order. Given that the experienced Worcestershire off-break bowler also boasts all-rounder status, even opening the batting for England during the 2015 World Cup, you can see the appeal.
It is fair to say that Matt Parkinson has thrown his name in the hat and given Eoin Morgan a dilemma, with another chance to impress with the red-ball coming up during England’s two tests in New Zealand.
Saqib Mahmood has not quite had the same impact, struggling to stand out from the array of young-bowlers on show in New Zealand.
Joffra Archer, Chris Jordan and all-rounder Ben Stokes look comfortable in their spots amongst the seamers. With England looking willing to invest in Sam Curran in all formats, it seems likely that Pat Brown, Lewis Gregory, Tom Curran and Mahmood are all in competition for the final spot.
With Tom Curran maintaining an impressive economy, Pat Brown showing his skilful variations and Lewis Gregory also impressing, you would have to say Mahmood looks the one most likely to lose his place for South Africa.
The 22-year-old earned his England call-up after stunning performances with the white-ball for Lancashire, and was the leading wicket-taker in the Royal London One-Day Cup.
However, he was unable to replicate this form for England in New Zealand. He was given all four of his allotted overs by Morgan in the second T20, but will have been disappointed by his 11.50-per-over economy, for just one wicket.
The third T20 told a similar story, with the seamer again claiming just one wicket, while both Tom Curran and Pat Brown boasted a better economy. After being rotated, Mahmood featured again in the decisive fifth T20 and was able to take a wicket from two overs.
While he showed sparks of his maverick-like promise, but there is no doubt the Lancs pace bowler under-performed, and with several other players making their debut it seems unlikely he’ll be given a pass due to inexperience.
However, David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd was adamant in commentary that Mahmood has the look of a test match bowler, in spite of his domestic white-ball success, and that is what the debutant will be clinging to.
A two test series against New Zealand begins on Wednesday, and should he prove himself in that, he has the potential to make himself undroppable in the shorter format.