Saqib Mahmood reflects on One-Day Cup campaign
Mahmood claims PCA MVP award
Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood is looking forward to enjoying more successes during the 2019 season after claiming the PCA’s Most Valuable Player crown for the Royal London One-Day Cup.
The 22-year-old clinched the title by a mere 0.38 points from Somerset’s Craig Overton, who was unable to usurp Mahmood during Saturday’s final against Hampshire.
The Lancastrian took 28 scalps over the course of the tournament - three more than any other player involved. He also returned a mightily impressive bowling average of 18.50, bettered only by former South African international Morne Morkel of Surrey who took 13 wickets.
The England Lions bowler admits that he had long been aiming for success in this competition, but could not have predicted just how well it would go for him.
“This is a competition I’ve targeted for the last couple of years,” said Mahmood.
“I actually got a little injury in the lead-up to this year’s tournament, so to play the way I have and make the contribution that I have has been brilliant.”
When quizzed on the secrets behind his success, humble Mahmood explains that having clarity of thought has been the most important factor for him.
“If anything, it’s just about putting the team first.
“At the start of the tournament I talked about taking wickets throughout the innings and, to be honest, I think I just tried to force it in the first couple of games.
“After that, I took a step back and just kept trying to put the ball in the right areas. It just started to click for me.”
The 22-year-old is a prodigious talent and, already with 12 appearances for the Lions and now the One-Day Cup MVP crown in the bag, he has big ambitions for the rest of his career.
“In the long-term, I’d absolutely love to play cricket for England. That’s always been the case and will never change.
“I can’t look too far ahead and I’ve obviously got to take it as it comes. The One-Day tournament prepares you for that because the games come thick and fast and you can’t get ahead of yourself.”
Despite returning figures of 6-37 and 5-14 in consecutive games against Northamptonshire and Leicestershire respectively, Mahmood insists that his favourite moment of the tournament was the quarter-final victory at Lord’s.
“Being able to walk the team off the field that day after taking four wickets was a great feeling. It’s always brilliant to win a crucial game at the home of cricket.”
Although it wasn’t to be for the Red Rose in this year’s 50-over competition, Mahmood is predicting future success for the current squad.
“We’ve got a really great bowling attack. There’s a lot of competition for places in there.
“We’ve got a block of County Championship games coming up so, for me, the main thing is to get into that red-ball side and get a run of games. I’ve really enjoyed playing T20 over the last couple of years as well so I think we can do well in the Blast, too.”
For now, Mahmood can be proud of what is a huge achievement in the last year of 50-over cricket as we know it in county cricket.