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Lancashire fast bowler Saqib Mahmood revealed he declined a chance to play in the lucrative Indian Premier League to increase his chances of being selected to England's Test squad. Mahmood got his first taste of Test cricket on England's tour of the West Indies in March. He gave a good account of himself, too, taking six wickets at an average of just less than 23.
Saqib Mahmood shows off reverse swing
Most impressively, from an England selection standpoint, was his ability to generate the fabled reverse swing with an old ball. It was key for him to show it off in England colours too because it is a skill he has shown with Lancashire before. Being able to reverse the ball is especially beneficial in limited-overs cricket where there often isn't a lot of help for the bowlers. "I turned down an IPL offer just to be here playing for Lancashire and try to push my red-ball credentials," Mahmood said. "I got an offer while we were out in the Caribbean and it was a decision I had to make. "I spoke to a couple of the guys around me and felt as though it was in my best interests at the moment to focus on red-ball cricket. "Hopefully that can highlight my ambition to play Test cricket and to give myself the best chance to do that by performing here for Lancashire."
Special chat with Ben Stokes
While Mahmood would not name which IPL team made him an offer he revealed that he made his decision after a conversation with Ben Stokes. "That was my choice. It was funny because it came from a conversation I had with Stokesy over breakfast one morning," he said. "I got talking to him about why he didn't go to the IPL and he said he wanted to prioritise red-ball cricket and be a part of the squad moving forward. "It was that same day that I got a call - a coincidence in timing, but for me the timing of that call was great. "I had left that morning having had the chat with Stokesy, who would earn millions in the IPL but wanted to push this team forward. "I have that drive as well to try and be a part of that Test team and try to push that forward over the next few months. "I've had success with England in a white-ball shirt as well but how much I enjoyed myself out in the Caribbean - I have never enjoyed myself that much ever on a cricket field. "It was a pretty flat wicket at Barbados… but I just thought the whole experience, and I did take it all in, playing Test cricket - nothing beats it."
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