City Corporation pays tribute to former England cricketer Sajid Mahmood

Sajid Mahmood was nominated for the award by City of London Corporation Elected Members, Andrien Meyers and James Henry George

August 13, 2022
Source: Photo by author

LONDON: British Pakistani cricketer Sajid Mahmood, who played international cricket for England and county cricket for Lancashire and Essex, has received the Freedom of the City of London.

The right-arm fast-medium bowler, who made his debut for Lancashire in 2002 while on a scholarship with the club, attended a ceremony at Guildhall in the Square Mile, with members of his family and friends to receive the prestigious award.

After a successful career, which included making his One Day International debut for England against New Zealand in July 2004, playing in the Ashes series 2006-07, and the World Cup in 2007, Sajid is now Head of Cricket at William Perkin School and has set up his own cricket academy.

Sajid was nominated for the award by City of London Corporation Elected Members, Andrien Meyers and James Henry George.

Speaking after his ceremony, Sajid Mahmood, said: “It feels very special to be awarded the Freedom to the City of London for something that is very important to me.

“I have played cricket at the highest level and represented my country and now, my true passion is to help develop the next generation, not just to make them better cricketers, but also better people. In other words, to be recognised for that is truly amazing.

“I now thoroughly enjoy my work as Head of Cricket at William Perkin School and more recently, setting up the Saj Mahmood Cricket Academy, which enables me to help as many young people as possible. I would like to thank my family for their continued support because, without them, I would not be in a position in which I find myself now.”

Andrien Meyers said: “James and I were very pleased to nominate Sajid for his Freedom which, not only recognises his notable achievements in cricket at both national and local levels, but also at how he is now passing on his skills to young people.”

James Henry George said: “Sajid is clearly both honoured and humbled to have received the Freedom of the City of London, of which we are rightly proud.

“He will surely be delighted to know that he is following in the footsteps of other distinguished cricketers, including Sir Andrew Strauss, Michael Holding, and Sir Alastair Cook.”

One of the City of London’s ancient traditions, the Freedom is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients, who were also required to join a Livery Company, to carry out their trade.

As well as being nominated for, or applying for, the Freedom, it is also offered by the City of London Corporation to individuals as a way of paying tribute to their outstanding contribution to London or public life, or to celebrate a very significant achievement.

Speaking to The News and Geo, Sajid Mahmood said he was honoured and humbled at receiving the award.

Sajid Mahmood urged the British Asian youth to never give up their dream of playing cricket professionally. He has also asked for parents to believe in the system, despite any negative media around racism in the game, giving example of numerous former and current and former Asian cricketers such as Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Saqib Mahmood, Ravi Bopara, Monty Panesar and Owais shah to name a few, who have all had very long and lucrative careers in the game.

Sajid Mahmood started playing cricket at the age of eight for Bolton Indians but played most of his youth cricket at Astley Bridge. He himself had a lucky break through into the county system. Having trialled 3 times for Lancashire and failing in all three attempts, he never stopped believing. His opportunity came when one of the bowlers in the U17s age group got injured and Sajid was a replacement for a couple of games. He performed well with both the bat and ball in both games making it difficult for the club to leave him out of the set up. 4 years later he made his England one day debut. He has now set up Saj Mahmood Cricket Academy, to help young cricketers getting better and to expose them to the county coaches, giving them a greater chance of playing a better level of cricket.

His father, Shahid Mahmood was a huge part of Sajid achieving what he has. Shahid himself was a very good league cricketer and supported Sajid throughout his career. Taking him to games and training wherever this may have been. Even taking days off work to make sure Sajid had the best support to help him achieve his dream of one day playing professionally.