Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Mahmood family in loyalty test as Plunkett is ruled out

Sajid Mahmood will perform in front of a divided family if he fulfils a career ambition by playing for England in tomorrow's second Test against Pakistan at Old Trafford. And after Liam Plunkett was yesterday ruled out with a side strain, that would seem to be extremely likely.

Born and raised in Bolton just 15 miles away from Old Trafford, Mahmood has played his entire career at the ground and has long dreamed of playing there in an England shirt.

However, if he does win his third cap, it could provoke plenty of family discussion ­ his mother and father emigrated to England from Pakistan in the 1970s.

The 24-year-old said: "It would be a dream come true to play for England at Old Trafford having played all my professional career here. To wear an England shirt and play a Test here would be fantastic.

"It's a little bit weird because my parents are from Pakistan, but I've told them they've got to support England or they won't be getting a ticket! It will be good to play against Pakistan and do well against them. When I was really young, about eight or nine, I used to support Pakistan because I was brought up like that.

"My family would say to me that because we came from Pakistan I had to support Pakistan, that was the way I was brought up. But from the age of around 13 or 14 I watched England play and I wanted to be on that stage and play for England and ever since then I've supported England.

"I've got quite a lot of family coming down, so it would be good if I got a chance to play for England in front of them."

Should Mahmood play tomorrow, it will be his first international since the one-day series against Sri Lanka when he had a torrid time and was dropped for the final match at Old Trafford

"I would have liked to have played on my home ground in a one-day international but I didn't and I didn't let it get to me ­ I just carried on doing my thing and hopefully I'll get my chance here in a Test against Pakistan," he said.

"I know I didn't bowl too well, but... I have been working hard with Kevin Shine and Mike Watkinson at Lancashire as well and it's out of my system now.

"I still knew what I could do so it didn't really dent my confidence.

"Being around the players and watching how they go about things has been good for me to learn about how I need to do things.That has especially been so talking to players like [Steve] Harmison, [Andrew] Flintoff and [Matthew] Hoggard on the bowling side of things and I've learnt quite a lot now."