Dawid Malan reflects on his epic T20 form for England and says he hopes to win more ODI and Test caps
Dawid Malan hopes his wave of T20 success will turn the tide on his ODI and Test fortunes in 2021.
Malan, 33, sits proudly atop of the World T20 batting rankings but considers 50-over cricket his strongest format and is also determined to put himself in the frame for next winter’s Ashes.
In conversation with Sky Sports, Malan speaks candidly about a year in which he has amassed 397 runs at 49.6 apiece – including a brilliant 99no against South Africa in December – to build on a superb series against New Zealand the previous November in which he scored 103no.
The left-hander also says playing in next year’s ICC T20 World Cup would be a dream come true and says England’s immediate challenge is to try and win all our series building up to the tournament…
How do you think your year has gone and what has been key to your success?
Dawid: “It’s gone really well and, touch wood, it will continue. When you are having to be part of this England white-ball set-up which is so strong and so tough to get into, you know you have to perform every game – it drives you to be as consistent as you can.
“If you have five innings and you only perform once, that’s not really going to get you pushing for a spot in this team. You have to be extremely consistent. It’s not just the runs, it’s the way you get the runs – you can’t be scoring the runs slower than everyone else because otherwise what’s the point in them dropping people?
“It keeps pushing you to keep pushing the boundaries, it makes you want to improve and get better and test yourself at different times in games where you’d usually sit back without taking the aggressive option.
“That environment that is created by Morgs [Eoin Morgan] and Chris Silverwood, that allows you to go out and be yourself and play the way you want to play; you can experiment as well and you get backed at all times. It’s a great environment to be in to be able to learn, especially as someone coming in trying to push.
“To get the chance in New Zealand – it was fantastic to get a hundred there – and then to actually back it up; that’s the challenge. I think everyone can have one good innings but it’s how you can back it up.
“I was really pleased with the way that I’ve been able to back it up over the other series that I’ve been part of since then, especially against a full-strength Australia as such with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins and guys like that – I think that’s always the test when you play against the best.”
Are you playing the best cricket of your career?
Dawid: “It’s tough to say. I had a really good period around 2015 when I was contributing and scoring runs consistently in all formats of the game. I’d say internationally, maybe the last 18 months I’ve played as well as I probably can play. I’m obviously hoping there’s more and that I can continue doing it.
“The beauty of cricket is that it always comes back to you at some point; it’s trying to make sure you stay ahead of that before that time comes, by not getting too far ahead of yourself and by staying in the moment and trusting the things that you’ve done.
“If I can keep doing that, then hopefully I can continue this sort of run that I’m on but I’m also aware that I’m human – at some time I’m going to make mistakes but hopefully I do more good things before I get to that stage.”
This run you are on has come relatively late in your career. Do you think there is a reason for that?
Dawid: “Not really. I think with international cricket, timing is a lot of things. You look at this England white-ball group that has been so fantastic and won the World Cup, they got together and they identified players four or five or six years ago and they have stuck with the players for that time. That’s made it incredibly difficult for other players to break in, so you had to do your apprenticeship and score runs.
“I probably felt that I was ready to play international cricket at 28 when I first got my call up but I did not get a game then and I only got one after that in Twenty20 cricket. In the series that I did do well, I was only playing because people were being rested. The next time that I played a Twenty20 game for England after scoring the most runs for England in a tri-series against Australia and New Zealand in 2018 was 18 months later. That just shows how tough it is to get into this team.
“So I think it is all down to opportunities. I feel like now I’ve been given the opportunity and I’ve been able to take it with both hands. I would have loved to have had that opportunity five years ago but unfortunately timings didn’t just work out at the time.”
Has Eoin’s influence had a big impact on you?
Dawid: “The good thing is that I have played with Morgs since 2006 at Middlesex. He knows my game, he trusts my game, he has seen how I have developed since I started playing tournaments – what my strengths and my weaknesses are. It’s nice to have someone who trusts your game – I think that helps massively, especially when you come into an environment where you have been on the outside quite a lot. He just says ‘play the way you play’.”
You have had a taste of Test cricket. Your game appears to be suited to it. Do you still harbour ambitions in that respect?
Dawid: “Yes. I harbour ambitions in all three formats. Funnily enough, 50-over cricket is probably my strongest one and I have not looked like playing more than that one game that I have played, which is just the way that it goes with the players that they have got. I still want to play Test cricket; whether that time has gone or not is not up to me. I have been told to go away and score runs in county cricket – and I feel like in 2019 and 2020 I have put the numbers on the board and that is all I can do.
I wanted to put my name in for the IPL which means that I miss the initial bit of four-day cricket, which is what I have always wanted to play to push for Test honours. I don’t know if I’ll get picked up for IPL as it’s so tough to get in. With an Ashes coming up, hopefully I can put pressure on the selectors to look at me again if I do not get picked in the IPL.”
What are your goals for 2021?
Dawid: “My goals are always to score as many runs as possible when I get the chance. I want to be part of this England T20 team moving forward and every opportunity that I get I want to be able to stamp my authority to make sure I am in that XI. That’s the dream I have – to be part of this England Twenty20 team for as long as I possibly can. If opportunities come in any other format then that will be fantastic as well.”
How excited are you about the T20 World Cup?
Dawid: “I am trying not to look that far ahead – there are so many games to be played before that. If it happens that I perform well enough for an extended period of time next year to be able to get onto that plane for the World Cup, that would be a dream come true.”
How tough will it be to win in India?
Dawid: “It’s difficult. If this England Twenty20 team get on a roll on some good wickets in India, with the players that they have – Jos Buttler, Morgs, Stokesy, Jofra Archer, Jonny (Bairstow), Jason (Roy) – they are all match-winners on their day. All you need is for three or four of them to come off in a tournament and you’re putting the team in a good position in the tournament.
“We are the number one-ranked team and the challenge for us is to try and win all our series before the World Cup. Morgs has a vision of how he wants to win that World Cup in India with combinations and things like that, so it will be interesting to see how he goes about structuring the next 12 months.”
Don’t miss our special review of the cricketing year – ‘Cricket’s COVID Summer’ – on Sky Sports Cricket at 6pm on Christmas Day, with a repeat on Boxing Day at 3.30pm.
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