Mahmood ready for fresh start

The Lancastrian returns to England duty older, wiser and grateful for another chance

It was two years ago against South Africa in Barbados that Sajid Mahmood's England career appeared to reach the point of no return. With England's future in the World Cup at stake, the Lancastrian delivered four overs and two balls that cost 49 painful runs. England exited the competition and Mahmood was dispatched back to Old Trafford, the Duncan Fletcher hunch selection that failed to pay off.

It is in South Africa that Mahmood has now been given an unexpected chance to start over. Sometime over the course of the next week the 27-year-old will wear England colours again, and if he can make a quick impression in one of the three warm up games – the first is against the Eagles on Friday – then a place in the limited-over series (two Twenty20s and seven one-days) will be within his grasp. "I'm ready now," said Mahmood in Bloemfontein yesterday. "I've matured a lot as a bowler and as a person."

During his tenure as England coach, Fletcher was never afraid to pick out players he believed had something beyond obvious abilities with bat and ball – Marcus Trescothick provides the prime example. In Mahmood's case it was a basic element of raw pace, always a favourite Fletcher ingredient for his seamers. But it was the rawness that became most apparent over the three years he was in and out of the England team, a spell that included three Tests in Australia.

When Peter Moores replaced Fletcher there followed a switch of emphasis for the seam attack. Out went Mahmood and in came the likes of Ryan Sidebottom, slower but canny and consistent. But Mahmood – partly under the guidance of Moores in his new role as Lancashire's coach following his England dismissal – has gone back to the country circuit and done the hard yards, as the Australians like to put it. He took 24 wickets in 16 one-day games for Lancashire last season; not spectacular, but solid and, most importantly, reliable.

"I wasn't consistent enough and now I've gone back, worked on those things and I think I'm ready now," said Mahmood, who finds himself cast as the eldest of England's seamers. "When I first started, I thought the game was quite simple. All I wanted to do was try bowling quick and I thought I'd just get wickets. I worried too much about pace and that's where the waywardness and inconsistency came into things. Now it's a lot more about trying to hit an area and being more rhythmical. Playing this game, you're bowling against some world-class batsmen. There's quite a few 90 mile per hour bowlers around and batsmen are now used to that.

"So you're going to have something different as well. You've got to be able to swing it or nip it around or be hitting an area on a consistent basis, putting the batters under pressure hoping they make a mistake. I've now learned over the last couple of years that it's not all about pace, you've got to do something else."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair