Mahmood 'coming home' to Surrey
Surrey have signed Azhar Mahmood for this year Friends Life T20 competition. Mahmood, the former Pakistan allrounder who now qualifies as a non-overseas player, represented Surrey between 2002 and 2007 and is currently with Kings XI Punjab in the IPL.
Aged 38, Azhar sustains Surrey's recent policy of signing 'mature' players: Vikram Solanki (37), Gary Keedy (38) and Ricky Ponting (38) are also among the new additions to the club, joining the likes of Zander de Bruyn (37), Gareth Batty (35) and Jon Lewis (37).
Azhar is certainly experienced. Only seven men have played more than his 170 T20 games and only three men have taken more than his 190 wickets. He is also 17th on the run-scorer list. He represented Kent between 2008 and 2012.
"From what I gather, Azhar has been sorely missed since he left and should never have been released in the first place," the Surrey team director, Chris Adams, said. "Come the start of the FLt20, to have such a high-skilled player of his quality to fill a number of roles with bat and ball is a great bonus for us. He comes with a wealth of experience, a great record behind him and we're really, really pleased."
Mahmood said: "It feels very special to be coming back to Surrey. I enjoyed my time with Kent but, ever since I left Surrey in 2007, I was always getting messages from Surrey fans and supporters asking when I was coming back, so I say thank you especially to Chris Adams and Alec Stewart in bringing me home.
"Obviously it's a very different set up to when I was last at Surrey and Twenty20 cricket has also gone from strength to strength so it's exciting times ahead. I like the squad Surrey have for Twenty20. It looks strong and a real mix of youth and experience, and I look forward to catching up with the guys when I get back from India."
Surrey, who came bottom of the South Group in last year's competition, have also announced Octopus Investments as a new FLt20 sponsor.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo