Mahmood comes of age by silencing his critics with fiery display

Among the objectives that the coach Duncan Fletcher has been looking to push towards a conclusion during this series, the advancement of Sajid Mahmood as a bowler with Ashes potential is one that until yesterday still had some distance to cover.

The tall and fast young seamer from Bolton had been blooded into the national team with mixed success, making only a limited impact in the Test series against Sri Lanka and suffering an ordeal in the one-day series against those opponents, where the touring side's prolific batsmen exposed him ruthlessly. The punishment descended into the stuff of nightmares at the Oval in particular, with Mahmood conceding 80 runs in just seven overs.

For a 24-year-old of limited experience, who is in only his third full season of first-class cricket after making his Lancashire debut just four years ago, it left his confidence at a vulnerable level. Fletcher's way, though, is to back those in whom he sees promise and Mahmood's recall in the second Test against Pakistan at Old Trafford signalled that he should not lose his self-belief.

Mahmood's performance in Manchester was overshadowed by those of Steve Harmison and Monty Panesar and he arrived in Leeds aware that the nature of the Headingley pitch might see Jon Lewis selected in favour of him. But it was Lewis who was dispatched back to his county and Mahmood's six wickets here, and in particular his 4 for 22 yesterday, not only indicated that Fletcher and company had chosen the right man but enabled the Lancashire player to hold his head up and visualise an England future more clearly than before.

"Compared with how I felt after the one-day series against Sri Lanka it feels fantastic now," he said after leading the England players off, if a little bashfully, following the team's series-clinching victory yesterday.

"I have taken four wickets for England in a Test, my best figures. I'm full of confidence now. I have put the one-day series behind me.

"I have worked quite hard on my game with Kevin Shine, the England bowling coach, in the last few weeks, particularly on my seam position. I'm really pleased with the way it went here. It was a different wicket from Old Trafford, which was a lot more bouncy, and I needed to bowl fuller but I achieved that."

To a degree, it was something of a coming of age for Mahmood as a member of the England side, a point his captain, Andrew Strauss, emphasised. "We have always known his potential," Strauss said. "If a guy can bowl at over 90mph and reverse swing it, he always has a chance of being a threatening Test bowler. He has probably bowled without luck before this innings and maybe things turned a bit for him today."

Mahmood also had the strength of character to deal with some barracking from the stands that, at times, was less than friendly, making play of his Pakistan roots as the English-born son of immigrants, albeit a family that has been in Britain for 40 years.

"The banter with the crowd was light-hearted at first but then it started to get a bit personal," he said. "I heard the word traitor in a couple of chants but I did not let it affect me. To be honest I tried to ignore it and concentrate on bowling. It helped fire me up."

His success clearly made it easier to bear, even to the extent of joking about who might be behind it when his family's mixed allegiances were brought up. "My father and brother were here watching," he said. "I don't know, maybe it was my dad who instigated it!"

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks