Fresh start ignites Mahmood
Sajid Mahmood is raring to go as he embarks on a new chapter in his career.
The former England paceman, who represented his country in eight Tests, 26 one-day and four Twenty20 internationals, struggled for form this year.
After a brief loan spell at Somerset, he was released by Lancashire in September - 12 months on from helping the Red Rose win their first County Championship title for 77 years.
But following a two-month search for new employers, the 30-year-old has now secured his future by signing a two-year contract with Essex.
“I can’t wait to get back into things,” he told ecb.co.uk. “I thought it would be a good challenge for me and a real boost for my career. I spoke to Paul Grayson, had a coffee with him and listened to what his thoughts were, and things went from there really.
“I’m really excited. That couple of months out has given me a real kick in the backside. You can get into a comfort zone and I think I had got into that comfort zone. It’s a new challenge ahead now.
“I want to show people what I can do. At Lancs my hunger was still there, but probably not to the extent it is now to be honest.
“I probably didn’t have that much of a point to prove. I was getting regular games; I was doing ok - not brilliant, but good enough to stay in the side - I’ve got that real hunger now to do more than good. I want to be a stand-out performer on a consistent basis.
“I’ll try and get settled as quickly as possible and take things from there.”
Essex struggled to make an impact in this year's domestic game, finishing fifth in Division Two of the LV= County Championship, losing in the Friends Life t20 quarter-finals and failing to get out of the Clydesdale Bank 40 group stages.
However, that has not stopped Mahmood talking up their chances ahead of the 2013 campaign, with promotion in the four-day game a realistic aim.
“They’re a really good side. I’m surprised they haven’t been in the first division to be honest, because they have quality players with a lot of experience,” he said.
“I’ve not met the younger lads yet, but I’ve heard they’ve got really good potential and a lot of talent. Hopefully we can play some good cricket this coming season and get into Division One."
After spending 10 years in the north, Mahmood was understandably disappointed to be shown the door by the Red Rose - yet does not hold any grudges and views the club in high regard.
“Last year, I played the first three or four games and had bad games, but I think everybody will have that,” he said.
“I was very unfortunate that I didn’t get a game throughout the season, especially with the way things were going, but that’s in the past now.
“The season before that I had a decent season when Lancs won the championship, so it was down to those bad three or four games really.
“But I enjoyed my time at Lancs and I thank them for everything they’ve done; they’ve helped me through my cricketing career but it’s a new chapter for me now at Essex and I need to take it.”
With cricket manager Peter Moores’ side losing their top-flight status, they will now become one of Essex’s main promotion contenders this season.
The fixtures have dictated Essex will travel to Old Trafford in early May - a contest Mahmood is eagerly anticipating
He added: “I’m in pretty regular contact with the lads, as you would imagine with me being there for 10 years, and I’m really looking forward to that. It could be pretty spicy.
“The banter has already started. They’re giving me be a little bit of sledging over text messages and stuff like that and it’s been pretty funny, so it should be good.”