Dane Vilas believes there are some similarities between South African quick Kagiso Rabada and Lancashire young gun Saqib Mahmood, with the former Test wicketkeeper having played and worked with both men.
Red Rose captain Vilas has spoken glowingly of 22-year-old Mahmood’s progression this season, both in one-day and four-day cricket.
The England Lions fast bowler has turned heads with 28 wickets in the One-Day Cup – no one else took more in the competition as Lancashire reached the semi-finals.
In County Championship cricket, his form has been more understated with eight wickets in four matches, but that is a side of his game which is not as far developed at present.
Over the winter, in his homeland, Vilas led South African team Jozi Stars to the inaugural Mzansi Super League T20 title and had Rabada at his disposal, a 24-year-old with more than 300 international wickets for the Proteas.
“When Kagiso came onto the scene as a young man, he was very mature and someone with a lot of pace,” said Vilas.
“I played a few games against him before we were together over the winter with the Stars, and he’s a great guy. Saqib is exactly the same.
“There are similarities between the two.
“I can’t believe how well Saqib knows his own game for someone of such a young age. That’s really exciting to see.
“I think he’s been incredible. The encouraging thing is that his body has held up.
“I know he’s had a tough few years with injuries. This is his first full season that he’s getting into.
“He’s learnt a lot, and it helps when you’ve got guys like Glen Chapple with his record and how he was as a bowler, Jimmy Anderson and Graham Onions. Even Tom Bailey – he had a phenomenal year last year. You can learn a lot from all of them.”
During the early-season RL50 competition, Mahmood became the first Red Rose player to take successive hauls of five wickets or more (6-37 against Northants and 5-14 against Leicestershire).
He has played 12 times for the England Lions over the last three years, and it would be no surprise to see him move through the ranks quickly.
“I think he’s on the England radar, but he knows that he’s still got work to do and wants to get better,” added Vilas.
“When the time comes, it’s about being 100 percent ready. He will leave no stone unturned.”
On Wednesday, Lancashire completed a 10-wicket win inside three days at Derby, a game in which Mahmood played. It was their fourth win from seven this season, and they already have a stranglehold on top spot in Division Two.
They next face Durham at Sedbergh School, starting a week on Sunday.