Sajid Mahmood eager to continue rapid rise for England



Sajid Mahmood has come a long way in a short space of time. While England were beating Australia by a nailbiting two runs in the second Ashes Test at Edgbaston last year, the fast bowler was taking six for 56 for Lancashire 2nd XI against Gloucestershire 2nd XI.

But come the start of Thursday’s second Test against Sri Lanka at Edgbaston the 24-year-old Mahmood is set to be a member of England’s pace attack after starring on his debut at Lord’s where he burst on the scene with three wickets in nine balls.

However he then discovered just how gruelling Test cricket can be as Sri Lanka batted for 199 overs to draw the opening match of a three-game series.

“It just came out pretty well for me that day,” Mahmood said here on Tuesday of his initial burst. “But by the end of the fifth day my opinion (of Test cricket) changed,” added Mahmood. “It was tough.”

However, Test cricket seemed a long way off last season as Mahmood spent most of his time in the reserve-team game with only six matches and 11 wickets at 31.90 apiece for the Lancashire senior side in the County Championship.

“Last season, I wasn’t playing much first-team cricket, more second-team cricket. It made me realise you’ve got to work that much harder.

“Over the winter I was a lot more focused and it paid off,” Mahmood also told reporters at Edgbaston having started last season with high hopes after touring Sri Lanka with England A.

“But I worked hard at my game in the winter at the Academy and then went on the (A) tour of West Indies. I had a pretty decent tour and then went to India for the one-day series.

“We’ve got a pretty strong attack up there (Lancashire) with Dominic Cork, Glen Chapple and James Anderson so it was pretty hard to keep your spot.”

But injuries to England spearhead quick Stephen Harmison (shin) and reverse-swing specialist Simon Jones (knee) have given Mahmood and the marginally more experienced Liam Plunkett, who played two Tests during England’s northern winter tours of Pakistan and India — one in each country — a chance to shine on home soil.

Not that Mahmood is under any illusions about his place in the pecking order. “If Harmison or Jones both get fit, I’ll be straight out of the side.

“I’m giving 120 percent, so is Liam no doubt,” insisted Mahmood. “If one or the other (Harmison or Jones) comes back, it’s down to the selectors who gets picked.”

Mahmood’s modesty may be a shock to those comfortable with the familiar stereotype of the macho fast bowler but he had a lesson in the dangers of over-confidence when his cousin, British boxer Amir Khan, got hit when dropping his hands on the way to a points win over Hungary’s Laszlo Komjathi in Belfast last weekend.

Mahmood, a Lancashire team-mate of current England captain Andrew Flintoff, stressed he derived most of his sporting inspiration from within cricket rather than his famous relative.

“We tend not to have serious conversations. I have done a bit of padwork with him but not recently.

“Right now, I want to be like Harmison or Jones. The way they bowled in the Ashes last year, especially, was sensational. If I can get anywhere near that, I’ll be happy.”

But ahead of November’s Ashes series in Australia, Plunkett said his role model was a proud wearer of the baggy green, rather than English blue, cap. “Glenn McGrath, he’s the ideal bowler. He runs in, hits the pitch hard and does everything right.”

Source:The News

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