Saq: Hun­dred does add up for cricket

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - CRICKET By CHRIS OSTICK

SAQIB Mah­mood has urged peo­ple to have an ‘open mind’ about The Hun­dred when it starts next sea­son.

There have been plenty of crit­ics ques­tion­ing the need for the ECB’s new flag­ship com­pe­ti­tion.

Lan­cashire fast bowler Mah­mood will be play­ing for the Manch­ester Orig­i­nals, based at Emi­rates Old Traf­ford, af­ter be­ing se­lected as one of two ‘lo­cal icons’ - the other be­ing Red Rose spin­ner Matthew Parkin­son.

Sev­eral big names have been signed up for the eight-team, ci­ty­based tour­na­ment - in­clud­ing Aus­tralia’s Steve Smith.

Yet crit­ics say the com­pe­ti­tion will dam­age county cricket, with play­ers leav­ing their clubs mid-way through the sea­son to join up with their sides in The Hun­dred.

And there are also con­cerns over the 50-over com­pe­ti­tion, which is to run at the same time as The Hun­dred.

But Mah­mood, who has spent the last few months with Eng­land in New Zealand as part of the one-day and Test squads, be­lieves peo­ple need to give the new tour­na­ment a try be­fore dis­miss­ing it.

He told M.E.N. Sport: “I am over the moon to be able to carry on play­ing my cricket at Old Traf­ford in The Hun­dred. I love play­ing there.

“There are crit­ics and, as a player, you have to be aware that these are the guys who are ex­tremely pas­sion­ate about the county game and don’t want to see it fall.

“And for me as a player, it is nice to see how many peo­ple care about the county game. But you have to have an open mind.

“What I am look­ing for­ward to most is that there are only eight teams as op­posed to 18, so the stan­dard will be very high.

“And as a player you want to play against the best guys and play against the best teams. That’s what we will get with this com­pe­ti­tion.

“You want to repli­cate in­ter­na­tional con­di­tions as much as you can. Look at the suc­cess of the IPL, they have high cal­i­bre play­ers play­ing.

“Now in The Hun­dred we have the best play­ers in the coun­try play­ing with some of the best play­ers in the world.

“Peo­ple should have an open mind, and I am sure peo­ple didn’t take to T20 too well when that started. Peo­ple might be sur­prised.”

Lan­cashire’s Saqib Mah­mood

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