Mahmood has quietly built an impressive coaching career, with international experience with Pakistan, polished by stints in the Pakistani Super League – most recently as head coach at Islamabad United. As an interim assistant coach at Surrey, he has taken on Overton as a personal project and the initial results, after some technical tweaks, have been spectacular.
“The first thing we did with him was reduce his run-up,” says Mahmood. “We’ve cut it down from 24 yards or so, to about 18 now. He lost momentum as he ran those final steps to the popping crease where you actually have to build that momentum.”
Because of that loss of momentum, Mahmood explains, he didn’t follow his target properly. “If you drive your hip through the action, you transfer weight and bring your hip forward, for the follow through. He stopped a little bit, but if you look now, he’s getting closer to the batsman. He’s taller at the fold now.”
Mahmood is meticulous when it comes to coming up with bowling moves, although he is careful not to tinker too much. His phone is a video treasure trove of bowlers and bowling moves from his work around the world; little tips he gave them, little tweaks he made, hours he spent watching and logging.
He identified Overton’s run-up as a main cause for the inconsistency in his release and action, which would lead to him often wandering down his leg. But the pre-season work yielded some immediate results. After shortening the run, Mahmood asked Overton to write down how many balls he tosses down the legs. Overton threw half an hour into the nets at Hashim Amla one day and Mahmood only remembers two balls Amla could play through the legs. Amla was impressed and wondered if Overton could maintain that consistency.
“Now you can see, it’s half a season over and he’s holding on,” said Mahmood. “Because of his pace, that inconsistency can creep in. At that pace, a good day can be a great day, but a bad day a very bad one. If you’re a little off-line at that pace, you’re going for a run. Jamie’s getting that consistency now He is still a work in progress. That will continue. But this season I think people have seen the best of him.”
“I spoke to him about his batting,” he says. “I said you reminded me of myself, you have exactly the roll I used to have. To help build an innings lower in the order. I told him this is the roll. With that stroke, this man can one of the best are all-rounders in the world.
“I haven’t really done much with him. Jamie Overton is special. He’s a diamond. We just cut and polished him a little bit.”