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Former England cricketer hails Mahmood's appointment as Pakistan's head coach

Azhar Mahmood played international cricket for Pakistan from 1996 to 2007 and has since established a respected coaching career, including roles in various T20 leagues around the world

Former England cricketer hails Mahmood's appointment as Pakistan's head coach PHOTO: AFP

Former England cricketer Mark Butcher praises former all-rounder Azhar Mahmood on his appointment as the head coach of the national team ahead of the upcoming five-match T20I series against New Zealand.

While speaking on the Wisden Cricket Weekly podcast, Butcher highlighted Mahmood's strong work ethic, vast knowledge of fast bowling, and inspiring leadership qualities. He praised Mahmood's dedication to the game, even at his age, and his ability to motivate players.

“He’s an absolute warrior,” Butcher said. “He still runs in and bowls full tilt. He’s in his late-forties. He’s still fit as a fiddle. Still runs in and gives the keepers practice, fizzing it through.

“He’s got enormous amounts of knowledge in terms of seam and swing bowling, whether it be reverse or normal. He’s the kind of guy that you absolutely love to have in your dressing room. He doesn’t believe there’s such a thing as a lost cause and I think he’s a much, much smarter guy than people have ever given him credit for in his coaching time, in terms of the way he reads the game.

“So, Surrey’s loss will be very much Pakistan’s gain and he’s a really good pick for them. A really, really good one,” he said.

While acknowledging the challenges Pakistan cricket faces, Butcher believes Mahmood can bring a sense of calm and be a source of guidance for the players. He emphasized Mahmood's skill in understanding bowling techniques and his ability to connect with players on a personal level.

“He certainly would be [a source of calm and common sense in the Pakistan dressing room]. He’d certainly have that point of view and he’d certainly be someone that the players would be very keen to have one-on-on chats with," he said.

“Whether or not he holds the sort of power to be able to change the overall picture is a different thing. But I think Azhar as an individual is incredibly good at understanding the bowling action for a start. And he’s also very very good at inspiring and getting in the heads of the players that he is working with.

“And that is the job that he’s been asked to do, and he will do that incredibly well. Should they ask him to do anything higher up than that, then all bets are off,” he concluded.

Azhar Mahmood played international cricket for Pakistan from 1996 to 2007 and has since established a respected coaching career, including roles in various T20 leagues around the world. He left his assistant coaching role at Surrey, a team that achieved two consecutive County Championship wins under his guidance.