Test Match Sofa
Mahmood unsure of his Lancs future
By Graham Hardcastle
Sajid Mahmood is unsure whether his long-term future lies with Lancashire after a poor start to 2012 has left him on the sidelines for the majority of their County Championship campaign. Although the former England fast bowler has played in all five of their 40-over matches so far, he has only played in three of nine four-dayers.
Mahmood came through the ranks at Old Trafford, making his first-team debut in 2002 while still on the Red Rose’s scholarship programme. Appearances followed for England’s A team before a full international debut came his way in a one-day match against New Zealand at Bristol in 2004.
Despite him struggling with the rapid step up, it was the first of 26 one-day and four Twenty20 internationals appearances as well as eight Test caps. He played three Tests in the 2006-07 Ashes whitewash in Australia.
But, since making his last international appearance in a 20-over match against South Africa in November of 2009, his career has fallen away. He played only 10 Championship matches for Lancashire last year, missing out on their final two title-clinching wins against Hampshire and Somerset, and has only taken four Division One wickets in 2012.
He says he is a bowler who needs to bowl regularly to get into rhythm, and his figures of 0-82 from eight overs - his worst ever with the white ball - in Sunday’s Clydesdale Bank 40 defeat against Middlesex were the biggest indication yet of his struggles.
“I need match practice under my belt, and I've not had too many chances this year,” said Mahmood. “It's a little bit disappointing, but it's just one of those things. I usually play all the competitions and most of the games. The only time I miss out is through injury, so it's very frustrating. It looks like the bowlers have got to bowl either really badly for a couple of games or get injured for me to get a chance now.”
When asked if he had thought about leaving Lancashire, Mahmood admitted: “I’d be lying if I said no. I'm in the last year of my contract, I'm 30 and I want to play cricket. I don't want to be carrying the drinks. I'd love to stay at Lancashire, but the bottom line is I want to play Championship cricket and do well. I'm one of those bowlers who needs to bowl a lot to get into rhythm.”
Mahmood, whose chances of regular cricket were hit by the loan signing of Ajmal Shahzad from Yorkshire last month, has even floated the idea of a loan deal in the short term should he not break back into Lancashire’s Championship line-up after the forthcoming break for Twenty20, although it would be a surprise if his county agreed to such a move with their squad numbers totalling 20, including England’s Jimmy Anderson.
Mahmood has at least been key to Lancashire’s consistent form in Twenty20 in recent seasons. He has taken 58 wickets in the last five domestic campaigns, in which time the Lightning have reached two quarter-finals and two semi-finals.
He added: “I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully I'll play a bit more cricket than I have been doing. It will be good to put the kit on and play some games, We've always done pretty well in it, although we've been unfortunate a few times, especially last year with the rain.”
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