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."

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat