In-demand Mahmood excited by future after Pakistan exit

By Sports Desk August 15, 2019

Azhar Mahmood is disappointed he was not invited to meet the committee of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) before his tenure as bowling coach was ended, but says he is in demand as he eyes a new challenge.

The PCB last week announced a revamp of the coaching staff, with head coach Mickey Arthur, bowling coach Mahmood, batting coach Grant Flower and trainer Grant Luden leaving at the end of their contracts.

Arthur and captain Sarfraz Ahmed met the committee before the decision was made over whether the coaching staff would be offered new deals, yet former Pakistan all-rounder Mahmood was not given the opportunity to state his case to stay on.

The former Pakistan all-rounder felt he should have been allowed to represent himself, but left the role with his head held high two years after playing a big part in the ICC Champions Trophy triumph in England.

Mahmood told Omnisport: "We had some wonderful times. There were a lot of ups and downs in that two-and-a-half-year period, but I worked really hard with this young group of bowlers.

"I would have liked to have been able to represent myself in front of the committee before the decision over contracts was made, but I can move on with dignity and pride over what I achieved.

"I believe I've done a really good job with these guys and they have the potential to become world-class bowlers, so I wish them all the luck.

"Initially I got a two-year contract, which they asked me to extend until after the World Cup. Now it's time to move on and grow further as a coach.

"My aim was to be there and give my best to the country and to the players, I certainly feel I did that.

"Let's see where I end up next. Now people know I'm available, I have a lot of interest coming my way so I need to work out which is the best for my future.

"Even when I was doing the job with Pakistan I got a job offer from Surrey and now people know I am available, there has been more interest."

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    BATTING

    Not even retaining the urn has been enough to silence the questions that were already there before the Ashes about Australia's batting.

    Smith's heroics were enough on this occasion, but coach Justin Langer has work to do going forward.

    David Warner, who should be Australia's second-best batsman, became Stuart Broad's bunny, making just 95 runs at an average of 9.50 during the series and falling to the England paceman seven times.

    Between Warner, Cameron Bancroft and Marcus Harris, Australia's opening stands during the Ashes were an average of 8.50 runs, immediately putting themselves under early pressure.

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    Matthew Wade combined two centuries with eight scores of 34 or less, while Travis Head (who averaged 27.28) and Usman Khawaja (20.33) were both dropped during the series.

    Harris and Wade top-scored in the Shield last season, but the likes of Kurtis Patterson, 26, Will Pucovski, 21, and Jake Lehmann, 27, should all be sensing an opportunity.

    Given the others have failed to take their chances, albeit in tough conditions, perhaps the time has come to build around Smith and Labuschagne while preparing for the future.

    Like their opponents, England have gaps to fill in the top six.

    Rory Burns (390 runs at 39) had success at the top of the order, but the gamble on Jason Roy failed to pay off. Joe Denly may have received a stay of execution with his 94 at The Oval, but it is hard to see how a 33-year-old who has spent recent domestic seasons further down the batting list is the long-term answer.

    Joe Root had made clear in the past that three is not his favoured role, so it will be interesting to see if Trevor Bayliss' replacement is happy to drop him one position lower.

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    Pat Cummins won the Allan Border Medal in February and the paceman showed he can lead his nation for years to come. The 26-year-old played all five Tests – a fine feat for a player with his injury history – and was comfortably the leading wicket-taker in the Ashes with 29.

    Cummins took his 29 wickets at an average of 19.62 and economy rate of 2.69.

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    Siddle (34) is the oldest of the group, but Cummins, Hazlewood (28), Starc (29) and Pattinson (29) look to have several years ahead of them in an excellent sign for Australia. Even Mitchell Marsh took his chance with the ball in the fifth Test, grabbing seven wickets, although the all-rounder is often criticised for his performances.

    The bowling was expected to be Australia's strength during the series and it proved just that, with few signs of it being an area of concern going forward.

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