Essex have signed discarded Lancashire fast-bowler Sajid Mahmood on a two-year contract. Mahmood was released by Lancashire at the end of the 2012 season after spending the last couple of months on loan at Somerset.
Mahmood said, "I am delighted to be joining Essex. Playing at Lancashire was a great experience for me and I thank them for all they did for my cricket. I see this move as a new beginning and can't wait to get started. Paul Grayson has been brilliant throughout the recruitment process and I appreciate the faith he's shown in me."
"Leaving Lancashire has possibly been a kick up the backside - I may have got into my comfort zone. I've come here to show people what I can do."
Mahmood, now almost 31 years of age, was born in Bolton and joined Lancashire on a scholarship in 2002 after impressing in the Bolton Leagues. After a promising 2003 season, he went on tour with England A to India and Malaysia and made his ODI debut the following summer. His remarkable rise was due, in no small part, to England coach Duncan Fletcher’s desire to have a pace attack that could bowl in excess of 90mph - something which Mahmood could easily manage on his day.
Unfortunately, with pace and youth often comes inaccuracy and that is something that has plagued Mahmood throughout his career thus far. Despite being given an extended run in the ODI side in 2006 and 2007, as well as playing eight Test matches during that period, he was discarded following England’s premature exit in the 2007 World Cup. He has played just four times since then.
Following Mahmood’s England axing, he went back to Lancashire and performed respectably prior to the highlight of his career to date - a starring role in their 2011 County Championship winning side. He finished with 35 wickets and would have hoped that his most testing days were behind him.
However, in sport things rarely go to plan. Lancashire were relegated and Mahmood played just three games for them at the beginning of the season. He then signed off with a Friends Life t20 defeat at the hands of Derbyshire with figures of one for 42 off 2.3 overs. Much of the rest of the year was spent in the second XI before a loan spell with injury-hit Somerset, which saw him capture eight wickets in three matches.
Hopes of a full-term contract with Somerset then didn’t materialise as they decided to put faith in their promising young battery of fast-bowling talent led by the Overton twins and Lewis Gregory.
And so to Essex. Their coach Paul Grayson had told BBC Essex last week that he would like to make two new signings before the start of 2013 - an overseas batsman and a fast-bowler - with one of those to be announced imminently. That was today confirmed as Mahmood.
Grayson said, "I'm really pleased Saj has joined the club. I like cricketers who feel that they have point to prove to people and he has lots of ability, he's experienced and he's a fit guy who can bowl with good pace as well so we feel Saj will be a real addition to the squad."
Essex have had their fare share of problems in recent times. A talented squad hasn’t been able to escape from Division Two and players that have been released have then prospered elsewhere - most notably Chris Wright and Varun Chopra with county champions Warwickshire. Also their signing of South African seamer Charl Willoughby at the end of 2011 proved some way short of a masterstroke and he retired with a year left to run on his contract having played sporadically.
They must now hope that their signing of another aging seamer on a two-year contract turns out considerably better.
County Cricket News In Brief:
Kent have appointed James Tredwell as their new club captain following Rob Key’s decision to stand down after seven years in charge.
Glamorgan are likely to confirm Australian overseas player Marcus North as their limited-overs captain next season. Mark Wallace will again take the reins in the LV= County Championship.
Fast-bowler Matthew Dunn has extended his contract with Surrey until the end of the 2014 season.
Next season’s Champion County match between Warwickshire and the MCC will again take place in the UAE with a pink ball. The four-day match will begin on 24th March 2013.
Former Yorkshire bowler Eric Burgin died on Friday at the age of 88. He played in 12 first-class matches for the county in 1952 and 1953, taking 31 wickets.
© Cricket World 2012
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