DateLine: 20th February 2007
His economy rate in ODIs has been a problem but that has not stopped Sajid Mahmood from gaining a regular place in the England squad in both forms of the game. Despite being expensive Mahmood has this knack of picking up vital scalps or wickets at crucial stages of a match. Initially his was a case of potential outweighing performance for he was selected for the England A tour of India in 2003-04 with only six first class wickets under his belt. In unhelpful conditions he gave a stouthearted display of fast bowling and was given his big break against New Zealand at Bristol in 2004. Hit for 56 runs from seven overs Mahmood was discarded but the Lancashire pacemans dedication and determination got him back not only in the ODI squad but also the Test team. He announced his arrival on the Test scene with a fiery three-wicket burst against Sri Lanka in 2006. Later that year while playing against Pakistan in 2006 he not only secured a series victory over the land of his forefathers with a spell of four for 22 from eight hostile overs at Leeds but also shrugged off the taunts of Pakistan fans who accused him of being a "traitor" and a "reject". Mahmoods father was born in Peshawar and his mother in Rawalpindi. Englands captain Andrew Strauss was lavish in his praise. We've always known his potential. If he can bowl at 90mph and reverse-swing it then there's always a chance of him being a threatening Test bowler.There is no doubt that Mahmood is here to stay in both Englands squads.