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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Azhar Mahmood Q&A
Mahmood makes a confident appeal
Azhar performed especially well with the ball for Surrey
Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood has just completed a brief stint in English county cricket with Surrey. Before leaving for home, he spoke to BBC Sport Online's Kashif Qamar.

Q: How was your experience with Surrey?

A: Excellent. I was only here for a month. I played three four-day games and five one-day matches and I really enjoyed playing with good players.

Q: What about the playing conditions in English county cricket?

A: They were very good for me and really helpful as well. We South Asian cricketers used to play usually in dry weather and on comparatively slow wickets. The weather and wickets were really helpful for my bowling and I think I used them to my advantage.

Q: You are referring only to your bowling, whereas you were chosen as an all-rounder.

A: That's right. But I was here only for exactly a month and this is very short period for a player to come in, join a new team and get settle in the local conditions. I tried my best to perform well with the bat, but the result may not be as satisfactory as with the ball.

Azhar Mahmood plays a sweep shot
Azhar had limited opportunities with the bat
Q: Do you think this county cricket experience will benefit you in the future?

A: Definitely. When I toured England in 1997 with Pakistan A, the experience of playing here benefited me a lot. It also helped me a lot on my Test debut the same year against South Africa.

The thing is that playing in different conditions than your home place always benefits you. And county cricket is very special in this sense. Had I played an entire season here, it would have benefited me a lot more.

Q: Would you like to play county cricket in the future?

A: Surely. I turned down Northamptonshire's offer in 1998 so that I could play for Pakistan, but frankly, I didn't know that counties released players for their national sides.

I don't have any offer at the moment. Let's see what happens.

Q: Let's talk about what you have been doing off the field.

A: Nothing. I played 18 days of a month. During matches, players don't have enough time even to rest let alone to do anything else.

But after my last match on 12 May, I met some of my friends in Kent, Somerset and Bradford and visited the Blue Water shopping centres and that's it. I hardly stayed in London.

Saqlain takes a wicket
Saqlain Mushtaq has replaced Azhar at The Oval
Q: And was there anything special you bought?

A: (Laugh) Nothing. That was mainly window-shopping. Whenever I toured England with the team, we went to Oxford Street to buy anything. This time I thought I should go to a different place.

Q: You were playing for Surrey when the bomb attack took place in Karachi and New Zealand immediately left Pakistan. What were your thoughts?

A: Obviously I was sad. But that incident got so much coverage also for the reason that New Zealand team was staying very close to the scene of the blast.

I am not saying that they should have played the same day or the attack was a routine, but they should not have left Pakistan or Australian shouldn't abandon its tour.

Terrorism is a global problem and sporting events have been staged in the past despite terrorist attacks.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Cricket
09 May 02 | Counties
10 May 02 | Counties
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