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Mahmood's England boost

Pace bowler Sajid Mahmood received the boost of a call up to the England Lions side to face Australia at Worcestershire next week.

It is apt reward for the former England bowler, who is looking to shake off that ‘former’ tag sooner rather later, because he has been in fine form for the Red Rose this season. He admitted his disappointment at not being named in England’s 16-man training squad earlier this week, but was presented with second prize.

“I was disappointed because I did think I had a chance (of making the full the squad). But it’s always good to know that the selectors have still got you in their minds,” he continued. “There are a few bowlers who have done well. Graham Onions has bowled brilliantly so far this year, and Steven Harmison bowled well against us last week.”

Mahmood will line up alongside Onions, Harmison and Tim Bresnan at New Road next week, providing him with his last chance to stake a claim for the first Test at Cardiff on July, 8. As he has not made it into that 16-man training squad most will see an early call-up unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

Mahmood continued: “Hopefully I can go down there and bowl well. The ball always does a bit at Worcester, it tends to seam around a bit. If I can take wickets, impress the selectors, then hopefully I will get a game in the Ashes. It is going to be challenging because there is a lot of competition for places.”

Not only has Mahmood got something to prove to the likes of Geoff Miller and Andy Flower, but he has also got a point to prove to the Aussies after he was part of the England squad beaten 5-0 down under in the winter of 2006/7..

“We didn’t do too well when we were there, but I enjoyed getting the experience of playing against the No.1 team in their own backyard. I learnt a lot from that,” he continued. “We will be looking to beat them. I look to beat every opposition I play against, whether it is Australia, Durham, whoever. I am sure all the boys in the Lions team will be looking to prove a point. Playing Australia is always quite spicy.”

Earlier this season Mahmood recorded career best first-class figures of 10-140 against Worcestershire at New Road in Lancashire’s County Championship win. He also claimed his best figures in an innings, 6-30, against Durham at the Riverside a week last Saturday.

He added: “I think I bowled a lot better at Durham than I did at Worcester. I got the ball in pretty decent areas, and it nipped and swung a little bit. If I can bowl like I did at Durham, there won’t be many innings where I get none-for.”
Graham Hardcastle
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
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