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The hard work starts here

Posted in England team blog

It's fantastic to be back in the England squad. I have waited quite a while - more than two years - so I was really chuffed to get the call.

I bowled pretty well for Lancashire this summer - it was probably the best season I have had. All the hard work with Peter Moores, my coach at Lancashire, and Kevin Shine at Loughborough has paid off.

While I was pleased to be selected, it will now be even harder to get into the starting XI and stay there. There is even more hard work ahead.

South Africa is a tough tour. They are right up there in the rankings in both Test and one-day cricket - they are a really good side. It will be difficult but I am pleased to be here as it gives me the chance to see where I am with my game. The step up from county cricket to internationals is big but I want to challenge myself.

They have a really strong batting line up - it's very destructive. But I can't think about them too much. If I do then I might drift away from my own plans.

I'm a better bowler than when I last played for England. I am more consistent now. The main thing I have been working on is having a game plan and sticking to it.

When I last played for England I used to just bowl quick without having a solid game plan. The drawback of bowling quick is that you can be wayward.

I am physically and mentally stronger now too. In the past if the batsman got on top of me then I would lose it. I would then bowl too aggressively. I know to stick to my game plan now. I'm more relaxed.

Sajid Mahmood

Sajid Mahmood says making the squad is one thing but getting picked to play for England this winter is another matter

It's not all about pace. You have to do a lot more with the ball. You need to think as a bowler in one-day cricket.

These days, with the power plays, you need to think about what you are going to bowl. The batsmen are so good that being able to bowl 90mph is not enough. You need to nail down your skills like yorkers and slower balls. If a batsman gets into a rhythm then you can quickly be out of the game.

I have been training hard since arriving in South Africa. All the boys have - everyone is looking in really decent nick. The mood in the camp is fantastic.

The key is for us to start well. We need to win a game early on. It helps that we beat South Africa recently in the Champions Trophy - we can take the confidence from that win into the one-dayers.

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