Sajid Mahmood - Breakthrough


He won the NBC Denis Compton Award in 2003; in the same year, he inadvertently broke the hands of Lancashire team-mate Andrew Flintoff and England A team-mate Alex Gidman, an early indicator of his pace. In September 2003, Mahmood was one of England 14 cricketers selected to train with the England Cricket Board's National Academy during the winter.

Despite having taken only six first-class wickets, Mahmood was chosen for England A's tour to India and Malaysia in 2003–04. He made his One Day International debut for England against New Zealand at Bristol in July 2004, but his seven overs proved expensive, conceding 56 runs without a wicket. More recently, he toured India with England in early 2006, playing in the third, sixth and seventh ODIs and taking several wickets.

He was included in the Test squad against Sri Lanka in 2006 following injuries to Steve Harmison, James Anderson and Simon Jones, and earned his first cap on 11 May 2006 in the first Test at Lord's, becoming England's 633rd Test player. England reached an imposing first-innings score of 551, and Mahmood took three wickets in his first four overs in Test cricket at the end of the second day, as the Sri Lankan team disintegrated to 91 for 6 at the close. He was unable to add to his tally before Sri Lanka were forced to follow on early on the third day, but added two further wickets in Sri Lanka's more composed second innings on the fourth day.

Mahmood was replaced by Jon Lewis for the third Test against Sri Lanka. However on 27 July 2006 he was selected ahead of Lewis for the second Test against Pakistan at Old Trafford after Liam Plunkett was ruled out due to injury. Although the pitch at Old Trafford favoured seamers, Mahmood performed relatively poorly. However, he was retained for the Third Test at Headingley. He contributed 34 runs with the bat in England's first innings, but then went for 108 runs over 24 overs, albeit with two wickets, in a high-scoring Pakistan first innings. In the second innings, he took 4 wickets for only 22 runs in 8 overs, contributing significantly to England's series-clinching victory. He featured in the final match of the series, dubbed Ovalgate. He took 2-101 in Pakistan's first innings before the game was forfeited by Pakistan for refusing to take the field during England's second innings.

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