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Page last updated at 05:39 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 06:39 UK

Mahmood warns of India temptation

By Sam Lyon

Sajid Mahmood
I've had offers to join the IPL but I'm desperate to work my way back into the England side

Sajid Mahmood

England's Sajid Mahmood believes it is only a matter of time before players turn their backs on the national side to join the Indian Premier League.

England and Wales Cricket Board chief Giles Clarke has said those playing in the IPL will not be picked by England.

But fast bowler Mahmood told BBC Sport: "A lot of people on the circuit are saying the IPL is the way forward.

"My aim is and always has been to play for England, but if you're not getting in the side the IPL is a big carrot."

England all-rounder Ravi Bopara revealed on Tuesday he had rejected a lucrative offer to join the IPL in order not to jeopardise his future international prospects.

And Lancashire's Mahmood, who has not played for England since the unsuccessful Ashes tour of Australia in January 2007, revealed he has been approached by two teams keen on recruiting him for the Twenty20 event, which is proving a smash-hit in India.

"I've had offers to join the IPL but I'm desperate to work my way back into the England side," he said. "That's the reason why I got into cricket in the first place and the desire is still burning brightly.

"I'm only 26, I've got a lot of years ahead of me in the game, and it would be great to spend those years representing my country and taking wickets.

"However, if things don't work out in that regard, the IPL is a massive draw. There is a hell of a lot of money on offer out there and a cricketer's career is a short one.

"There's not much I or anyone can really do at the moment, though, with the way things are.

"My aim is by the end of this year, three-quarters into the season, to be back in the England side. If not then I can start having a chat and see about looking at my options."

England is the only country to have taken such a tough stance on players participating in the six-week event, a move that has prompted the likes of Australian spinner Shane Warne to urge them to "get their head out of the sand".

Hampshire skipper Dimitri Mascarenhas is currently England's only representative in the big-money competition, but established stars like Kevin Pietersen and Ryan Sidebottom have also declared their interest in participating in the future.

And Mahmood believes there is little reason why England's stars can't enjoy the "best of both worlds".

I am adding consistency and accuracy to my game and my aim this summer is to... force my way back into the selectors' thoughts

Sajid Mahmood
"It is only three or four weeks out of the season," he said.

"If players can go out there, benefit financially as well as test themselves against the top players in the world, they can come back better for it.

"It's a chance to impress on a big stage against quality players and that's something that could impress the ECB and selectors."

In the meantime, the Lancashire ace is keen to prove his form and fitness after six months out of the game.

"I had a complete break from the game and it has benefited me immensely," he said. "I feel I am physically and mentally a better cricketer.

"I will always have pace but now I am adding consistency and accuracy to my game and my aim this summer is to get overs under my belt, take loads of wickets, and force my way back into the selectors' thoughts.

"I'm confident that I can do that. There's a lot of competition in the pace bowling department, but at my best I'm not far away at all."

see also
New Zealand reach IPL compromise
27 Mar 08 |  International Teams
Mascarenhas joins Indian league
11 Mar 08 |  Cricket
Twenty20 causes confusion
14 Mar 08 |  Cricket
Cricket's new order
29 Feb 08 |  Cricket
Pietersen rebuffs Indian offers
29 Feb 08 |  England

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