Test Match Sofa
Mahmood 'lost his way' at Lancashire: Grayson
By Paul Hiscock
Essex head coach Paul Grayson believes Sajid Mahmood "lost his way" at Lancashire in recent seasons and is delighted to have beaten off several other counties for the signature of the former England fast bowler.
“He’s one of those bowlers that needs to play and bowl a lot of overs and, hopefully, we can give him the opportunity to show everyone that he is still a top-quality performer," said Grayson.
The signing of Mahmood, on a two-year deal, boosts Essex's fast bowling options and gives the county plenty of firepower as they bid in 2013 for promotion to Division One of the County Championship after a disappointing campaign last season.
Mahmood joins an Essex pace department which already features proven performers David Masters and Graham Napier, England Lion Maurice Chambers and highly-promising youngsters Reece Topley and Tymal Mills.
The 30-year-old, who was an integral part of Lancashire's 2011 County Championship title-winning side, spent 11 seasons at Old Trafford but fell out of favour last term and finished the campaign on-loan at Somerset.
Now he is hoping to start the next chapter in a cricket career that has seen him win eight Test caps plus 26 one-day international and four Twenty20 appearances for England.
"I’m delighted to be joining Essex,” said Mahmood. “Playing at Lancashire was a great experience for me and I thank them for all they did for my cricket. I see this move as a new beginning and can't wait to get started.”
Since the end of last season, Grayson has made no secret of his desire to sign a top-quality fast bowler who can prove a match-winner and he believes that Mahmood ticks all the boxes.
“Although we’ve got five fast bowlers on the playing staff, I do like to have six because it gives nice competition for places,” Grayson said. “Sajid has lots of ability and lots of experience. He’s a fit lad who can bowl at great pace so we think that he will be a really valuable addition to the squad.
“We beat off a number of other counties for his signature, and Saj was impressed with what we had to say. He’s always liked playing at Chelmsford, he’s big friends with Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara and I'm sure he'll fit in very well with our squad.
“I think he just lost his way a little bit at Lancashire because they have tended to play on a lot of pitches that turned and they’ve been playing two and sometimes three spinners, so he probably hasn't bowled as much as he would have wanted. I like cricketers who have desire and still think they believe they have a point to prove to people."
The Bolton-born Mahmood moves south with 323 first-class wickets, including two 10-wicket match hauls and five wickets or more in an innings nine times. He has also proved a useful lower order batsman, scoring more than 2,000 first-class runs with nine half-centuries and a highest score of 90.
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