At an age when players are either on the last leg of their careers, Azhar Mahmood has built a brand for himself playing T20. Name a league and chances are you will find Mahmood plying his trade.
Ever since he dropped off the national radar in 2007, the 38-year-old Pakistani has played for 10 teams in seven countries."I am not playing international cricket but I am lucky that in the past one year I have been playing in all these leagues (see box). As long as the body holds I think it gives me an opportunity to do what I have done my entire life," said Mahmood, into his second season with the Kings XI Punjab.
The leagues have opened up new vistas for aging cricketers, who have found a way to not only prolong their careers but also earn money.
“Yeah, it's an option and there are now lots of opportunities to play alongside international players in different leagues,” he said.
Mahmood has spent the last four months playing in the Big Bash for the Sydney Thunder and in the South African T20 league for the Cape Cobras.
“In T20, wickets are mainly good for batting and wherever you go it's the same. Besides, in my international career, I have travelled to all these countries, so I know the conditions as a player. In the end, it all comes down to applying yourself in those conditions,” he said.
Mahmood said the exposure has made him more flexible. “If I am able to perform to my potential, compete against a 19-year-old for a place in playing XI, it's good. After opening for the Auckland Acers in New Zealand, I batted at No 5 for the Cape Cobras. You have to understand your role in each squad, register that in your mind and play,” he said.