Azhar Mahmood June 20, 2013

'I always keep one shirt from every team I play for'

Interview by Jack Wilson
Azhar Mahmood talks about sharing a dressing room with Wasim Akram, and wonders where the English summer has disappeared to
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Which cricketers in the world would you pay to watch?
Now, no one! I don't mind going and watching some players, but I play against them all a lot. I wouldn't pay.

What about from the past?
Sir Vivian Richards, without a doubt. I need a time machine.

What's the most satisfying wicket that you've taken?
Any wicket I take is satisfying - but especially my first one, in my debut ODI series for Pakistan. I got Sachin Tendulkar and that was so special. Sachin is a massive name and I had him caught at mid-on. It was a great feeling.

Do you ever keep any mementoes?
Yes, I keep a lot of my Pakistan kit - I'll always keep that. I've got the shirts and also Man-of-the-Match trophies and awards and things like that. I'll always keep one shirt from every team I play for, and I get everyone to sign it to remember my time there.

Do you get nervous before games?
Sometimes, yes. I get nervous if it's a new league starting or if I'm joining up with a new team. Even though I spent seven years at Surrey, I was nervous coming back because the dressing room and the management had changed. But when I'm on the field it's fine. As soon as I cross the boundary rope the nerves are all gone.

Who has been the most entertaining cricketer you've shared a dressing room with?
I had a great laugh with Wasim bhai [Akram] back in the late 1990s for Pakistan. I miss those days. Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Yousuf were great too, I had a lot of fun with them. In England, Jonathan Batty was always good for a joke.

What's more rewarding, deceiving a batsman with a slower ball or bouncing him out?
These days it's got to be bowling a bouncer, hasn't it? [Laughs] I'm not bowling as quick as I used to. A wicket is a wicket, it doesn't matter how you get them. I reckon when you deceive someone in the air with a slower one, that's more exciting. It feels good.

Who's been the hardest batsman to bowl to?
I would say one of those would have to be Adam Gilchrist. On his peak days he was incredible, as was Aravinda de Silva.

And the toughest bowler to face?
Glenn McGrath. He would ask questions every delivery. I didn't face Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis much - they were terrific bowlers too. Shane Warne was a very clever bowler and Courtney Walsh was so tough too, really hard to face. On the Pakistani pitches it was a nightmare. He'd bowl a bouncer and you don't know if it would skid on or go above your shoulder.

You've played for so many teams all over the world. Ever found it hard to remember all your team-mates' names?
[Laughs] Yes, I do! When I went to the Big Bash I only played three games and it was tough. I can't pronounce and remember some names, so I'd be like, "What's your nickname, mate?" It's easier to do that.

If you're there for a while, for a month or so, you spend time with them and you know every one of them well. But in the Big Bash I just had to turn up and practise and play, and I wasn't there too long so it was harder to get to know everybody.

"When you deceive someone in the air with a slower one, that's more exciting"

Where's the most enjoyable place to play cricket?
T20 cricket is fun wherever it is. I've always liked playing in England - even if it's so cold sometimes.

You've read my mind - or at least my question sheet. The Pakistan heat or the English cold?
I used to love this place - England - but not anymore. I bowled a one-hour spell the other day and still I'm freezing! Where's the summer gone? In the summer it's the place to be.

Do you prefer smacking the ball out the park or taking wickets?
I love both of them. I love my job.

Twitter or Facebook?
Oh, it has to be Twitter.

Favourite meal?
I love steak.

With chips?
No, with mash.

Do you play any other sports?
I play snooker. I'm now playing golf as well. I used to play basketball when I was a kid.

So what's your best break?
Sixty five, it's not too bad. We play every Friday, me and my brother-in-law.

Ryan Giggs is older than you, he's still playing in the Premier League for Manchester United. Who's going to retire first?
Him, definitely him! Some mornings I think I need to retire and when I get out on the pitch or I get in at 6pm, I'm feeling like, "Yeah, I love this", and those thoughts go. I love playing cricket around the world and doing what I do.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 17:18 GMT

    I love players like Azhar and Hussey who turn a game of cricket into their lives. They eat, drink and sleep cricket, much like us fans. Azhar's played all over the world: auckland, sydney, dhaka, surrey, kent, cape cobras and of course rawalpindi. He's very very experienced, and despite his age I think needs to be in the Pak line-up. He's played so much in england! The champions trophy is in england! Is it that hard to make the connection?! Pak need to get rid of baggage players, players who are a burden in the field, no good with the ball, and a max of 30 runs with the bat. I'm talking about Umar amin, akmal, Asad Shafiq. India has benefited from getting rid of such players and including players who are a contribution with all 3 forms of cricket athleticism: raina, kohli, jadeja, rohit, karthik. Maybe Pak administration/selectors can learn a thing or 2.

  • POSTED BY on | June 22, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    Genuine cricketer. Played all formats of the game. A worthy opponent. Reminds me of the wonderful days when we had an awesome bench strength in Pakistan cricket - Abdul Razzaq, Azhar Mahmood, Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik (back when he could hold a bat).

  • POSTED BY santhoo24 on | June 21, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    One of the wasted talents courtesy PCB IMO. He was one of the Pakistan cricketers I hated when India played them. Just like Abdul Razzaq, Mohd. Younis, Younis Khan among others, Azhar Mehmood was wasted by PCB, rather PCB failed in nurturing and grooming these cricketers and turning them into assets. Feel sad for him.

  • POSTED BY on | June 21, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    He had a great Test debut against SA. Unbeaten hundred and unbeaten 50 and in the wickets. Very nice guy to. He had the pleasure of seeing me hit a golf ball as our paths crossed on the golf course.

  • POSTED BY cricketsage on | June 21, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Azhar never quite lived up to his potential with Pakistan, more like flashes of brilliance rather than a bright shining star. Don't know whether it was team politics or lack of ability at top level.

  • POSTED BY on | June 21, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    Pakistan should have picked him for Champions Trophy. I am not his fan and I've never been but with this weaker side, Azhar should have been there coz of his experience in England.

  • POSTED BY oskhanz on | June 21, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    I love this guy and still believe that he along with Abur Razaq and Shahid Afridi can still play for Green Shirts in any sort of cricket. Teams are paying a lot to him to play for them but PCB I think waiting for him to become a coach and then they will hire him "Maybe"

  • POSTED BY WeeBee on | June 21, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    Extremely Good Talent. I remember My Mother use to call him " FAUJI BOY" due to his Army Hair Cutting. Well i also remember when he used to play for Pakistan, He started wearing HAT culture in Pakistani Team.

  • POSTED BY delpihero on | June 20, 2013, 22:20 GMT

    I remember when I was with surrey, he could not get me of the square, practicing for the 1st ever T20 match. The last ball I bowled had loop and he put me out of the ground. I told him at least now you can go in to the match with some confidence.

    Nice guy - never talked much

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 21:03 GMT

    Azhar Mahmood, Abdur Razzaq and SHahid Afridi, three classy all rounders that Pakistan could never utilize properly....and that is sad...I kinda feel like crying now!!!

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 17:18 GMT

    I love players like Azhar and Hussey who turn a game of cricket into their lives. They eat, drink and sleep cricket, much like us fans. Azhar's played all over the world: auckland, sydney, dhaka, surrey, kent, cape cobras and of course rawalpindi. He's very very experienced, and despite his age I think needs to be in the Pak line-up. He's played so much in england! The champions trophy is in england! Is it that hard to make the connection?! Pak need to get rid of baggage players, players who are a burden in the field, no good with the ball, and a max of 30 runs with the bat. I'm talking about Umar amin, akmal, Asad Shafiq. India has benefited from getting rid of such players and including players who are a contribution with all 3 forms of cricket athleticism: raina, kohli, jadeja, rohit, karthik. Maybe Pak administration/selectors can learn a thing or 2.

  • POSTED BY on | June 22, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    Genuine cricketer. Played all formats of the game. A worthy opponent. Reminds me of the wonderful days when we had an awesome bench strength in Pakistan cricket - Abdul Razzaq, Azhar Mahmood, Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik (back when he could hold a bat).

  • POSTED BY santhoo24 on | June 21, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    One of the wasted talents courtesy PCB IMO. He was one of the Pakistan cricketers I hated when India played them. Just like Abdul Razzaq, Mohd. Younis, Younis Khan among others, Azhar Mehmood was wasted by PCB, rather PCB failed in nurturing and grooming these cricketers and turning them into assets. Feel sad for him.

  • POSTED BY on | June 21, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    He had a great Test debut against SA. Unbeaten hundred and unbeaten 50 and in the wickets. Very nice guy to. He had the pleasure of seeing me hit a golf ball as our paths crossed on the golf course.

  • POSTED BY cricketsage on | June 21, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Azhar never quite lived up to his potential with Pakistan, more like flashes of brilliance rather than a bright shining star. Don't know whether it was team politics or lack of ability at top level.

  • POSTED BY on | June 21, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    Pakistan should have picked him for Champions Trophy. I am not his fan and I've never been but with this weaker side, Azhar should have been there coz of his experience in England.

  • POSTED BY oskhanz on | June 21, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    I love this guy and still believe that he along with Abur Razaq and Shahid Afridi can still play for Green Shirts in any sort of cricket. Teams are paying a lot to him to play for them but PCB I think waiting for him to become a coach and then they will hire him "Maybe"

  • POSTED BY WeeBee on | June 21, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    Extremely Good Talent. I remember My Mother use to call him " FAUJI BOY" due to his Army Hair Cutting. Well i also remember when he used to play for Pakistan, He started wearing HAT culture in Pakistani Team.

  • POSTED BY delpihero on | June 20, 2013, 22:20 GMT

    I remember when I was with surrey, he could not get me of the square, practicing for the 1st ever T20 match. The last ball I bowled had loop and he put me out of the ground. I told him at least now you can go in to the match with some confidence.

    Nice guy - never talked much

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 21:03 GMT

    Azhar Mahmood, Abdur Razzaq and SHahid Afridi, three classy all rounders that Pakistan could never utilize properly....and that is sad...I kinda feel like crying now!!!

  • POSTED BY yorkshirematt on | June 20, 2013, 19:59 GMT

    If he thinks Kent and Surrey are cold what would he think of Yorkshire?!

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 19:28 GMT

    pakistan wasted lot of big palyers like azhar mahmood muhammad yousaf shoaib akhtar and many more ........we dnt deserve to be in top teams bcoz we like our players in their good times but hate thm in thr bad times

  • POSTED BY Dannymania on | June 20, 2013, 18:18 GMT

    Azhar Mahmood is the one cricketer to whome Pakistani management was extremely mean.Thats enough said.

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 17:44 GMT

    Miss you in Green Shirts .. i remember when you made back to back centuries on debut against South African bowling attach was just marvelous, play your game as much as you can as Pakistan team doesn't deserve players like you. I pity Abdur Razzaq too

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 20, 2013, 17:11 GMT

    Probably the best player with good sense of humor

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 20, 2013, 16:45 GMT

    He is always a player you need in your eleven every time.. But he was not properly utilised by pakistan team management..

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    He is a guy who just plays his cricket and simply does it well enough.I respect him a lot and consider him amongst the gems Pakistan has gifted the game of cricket with.Look at the fitness,look at the agility.Playing all around the world IPL,Big Bash,County. Injuries??not many to bother him a great deal.That is an example for the youngsters to follow.Never saw/heard this guy doing anything not in the spirit of the game.A great character!!Cricket needs more of such examples.A true all rounder.

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 16:23 GMT

    @visht20: 'Best all-rounder Pakistan has ever produced along with Abdul Razzaq'...you seem to have an extremely perverted view of Pakistan cricket. Imran Khan, Wasim Akram etc were the BEST allrounders. Azhar Mehmood is ONE of the best but certainly not THE Best!!!

  • POSTED BY balajik1968 on | June 20, 2013, 14:42 GMT

    Too late to regret now, is'nt it. The man is now a British citizen, enjoying himself.

  • POSTED BY LeftBrain on | June 20, 2013, 13:24 GMT

    Yes, Azhar could have been the answer for Pakistan's lack of an all-rounder problem.......... not anymore though. Abdul Razzaq and him were treated badly, alongwith Saqlain and Yousuf at the tail-ens of their careers. and then there is a list of Karachi cricketers who had to sit out because Shoaib Malik and Imran Farhat and Kamran Akmal and Adnan Akmal and Rao Iftikhar and Rana Naveed had to play based on their place of birth.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 20, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    if he was from another country he would have played international cricket throughout his career. pakistans selection keeps choppinig and changung and destroy players careers. just look at mohammed yousuf. hecwould probably have 10 more test centurirs by now.

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | June 20, 2013, 11:06 GMT

    Gr8 allrounder

  • POSTED BY AQ13 on | June 20, 2013, 10:53 GMT

    I wonder why Pakistan doesnt include him in the t20s.he is the best and most inform pakistani allrounder in t20s nowadays

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    Now thats i call a fun guy..Great answers..

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    Having one all rounder in the team in the 90's was considered enough but Pakistan had three, Wasim Bhai, Abdul Razzak and Azhar Mehmood. They latter two defined how an all rounder should be. Azhar was just exquisite. God knows what happened to his career with the Pakistan team? We don't produce gems like him anymore.

  • POSTED BY shahiddurez on | June 20, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    Azhar Mahmood and Abdul Razzak both are great all rounders. But it is bad luck of Pakistan Cricket that politics has destroyed this game. So many fine players has been damaged by the politics in Pakistani cricket. Waqar Younis is the best example his career is badly destroyed by the politics otherwise he had much ability and talent to play and make more records for Pakistan. Muhammad Yousaf, Azhar Mahmood and Abdul Razzak are other example of dirty politics of Pakistani cricket.

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    For me the best allrounder Pakistan has never had...

  • POSTED BY visht20 on | June 20, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    Best all-rounder Pakistan has ever produced along with Abdul Razzaq. These two were the backbones of Pakistani middle order and bowling unit. Both have dismissed Sachin innumerable times, he was their bunny. I wish they would have played a little longer for Pakistan. Pakistan cricket would have been in much better position with them. Wish you good health Azhar and keep playing the sport as long as you can. Best Wishes, Your fan from India

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    I really miss Azhar Mahmood in Pakistan Team!

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    A great allrounder... can't forget his hundreds he scored against SA... Razzaq and Azhar ... The most underrated allrounders in the world.. :(

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    A great allrounder... can't forget his hundreds he scored against SA... Razzaq and Azhar ... The most underrated allrounders in the world.. :(

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    I really miss Azhar Mahmood in Pakistan Team!

  • POSTED BY visht20 on | June 20, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    Best all-rounder Pakistan has ever produced along with Abdul Razzaq. These two were the backbones of Pakistani middle order and bowling unit. Both have dismissed Sachin innumerable times, he was their bunny. I wish they would have played a little longer for Pakistan. Pakistan cricket would have been in much better position with them. Wish you good health Azhar and keep playing the sport as long as you can. Best Wishes, Your fan from India

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    For me the best allrounder Pakistan has never had...

  • POSTED BY shahiddurez on | June 20, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    Azhar Mahmood and Abdul Razzak both are great all rounders. But it is bad luck of Pakistan Cricket that politics has destroyed this game. So many fine players has been damaged by the politics in Pakistani cricket. Waqar Younis is the best example his career is badly destroyed by the politics otherwise he had much ability and talent to play and make more records for Pakistan. Muhammad Yousaf, Azhar Mahmood and Abdul Razzak are other example of dirty politics of Pakistani cricket.

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    Having one all rounder in the team in the 90's was considered enough but Pakistan had three, Wasim Bhai, Abdul Razzak and Azhar Mehmood. They latter two defined how an all rounder should be. Azhar was just exquisite. God knows what happened to his career with the Pakistan team? We don't produce gems like him anymore.

  • POSTED BY on | June 20, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    Now thats i call a fun guy..Great answers..

  • POSTED BY AQ13 on | June 20, 2013, 10:53 GMT

    I wonder why Pakistan doesnt include him in the t20s.he is the best and most inform pakistani allrounder in t20s nowadays

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | June 20, 2013, 11:06 GMT

    Gr8 allrounder

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 20, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    if he was from another country he would have played international cricket throughout his career. pakistans selection keeps choppinig and changung and destroy players careers. just look at mohammed yousuf. hecwould probably have 10 more test centurirs by now.