You’ve got to love it when someone hits a beautiful boundary to score their very first international runs. David Gower did it over 30 years ago, and now another elegant left- hander, Dawid Malan, has done it again. And what a superb shot it was too – a classy pull that made a cracking sound and sent the ball sailing into the grandstand several rows back.
As far as debuts go, Malan had an absolute stormer at Cardiff yesterday. His 78 from just 44 balls effectively won England the game, and with it the series. Beating the Saffers won’t make up for the disappointment of the Champions Trophy, but at least it made those in attendance smile.
No doubt some will think that England have found a new star in Malan. I’m yet to be convinced myself – I’ve seen him play like this before, but also watched him really struggle at times – but it’s certainly better to play well on debut than make a poor first impression. Just ask Liam Livingstone.
It’s also quite possible (albeit somewhat harsh) to speculate that Malan might never plays for England’s again. After all, he only played yesterday because we were resting players. Our recent white ball history is full of players who made a decent impressive but then vanished. Some of them, like Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb, even helped England to win a T20 World Cup.
Ben Duckett is another who made a strong impression in ODIs during the winter but now finds himself well down the pecking order. Let’s hope that Malan, a fine domestic player who’s been on the cusp of England selection for many years, has rather better luck.
What Malan’s innings did show (other than his natural talent and penchant for the big stage) is the strength in depth England have in white ball cricket. I can’t remember a time when we were blessed with him so many good strikers of a ball. The days when we had to draft in modest talents like Neil Smith as pinch hitters are long behind us. If only our reserves of quality test batsmen were anywhere near as deep.
Yesterday was also a good day for Chris Jordan who picked up 3 wickets, and yet another good day for Tom Curran, who took Richie Benaud’s favourite haul of chew for twenty-chew.
Unlike Malan, who at 29 years old might not have too much of a long term future, I expect that young Curran might play for England quite a lot over the next decade. I quite like the look of him, and so does everyone else by all accounts.
Kevin Curran, who I remember watching live a few times as a kid, must be pleased as punch that his boy has made such a promising start to his career.
How long will it be before the Curran boys, Tom and Sam, become the first brothers to play for England since the Hollioakes?
Malan batting well in red ball cricket is also a good watch, clean striking of the ball and fine cover drives.
Mason Crane had a decent enough second outing.
Of the three venues used Taunton came across well on the TV.
Malan’s T20 debut was long overdue and he has proved it with a thunderous innings!
Curran is a good bowler ( I saw him at the Oval v Warwickshire in April as well as on tv). My problem with him is that he looks strictly a white ball player for England. He seems to rely on variation rather than having any great ability to swing or seam the ball. This is no problem in white ball but likely to be found out in tests. I am not sure if his ambition runs to tests (some modern cricketers seem to view it as an optional luxury) but, if so, he needs to develop a threat which will force errors from a bat who is defending rather than rely on variation drawing errors from attacking shots.
Too much is made of elegance and boundaries in international cricket. England have a great opportunity to return to the days of real test cricket. We had already found Hameed – a wonderful prospect with a proper FC strike rate in the 30s. Now we can partner him with Andy Umeed – still going at Edgbaston after 8 hours at the crease with just over 100 and a strike rate in the 20s. Who needs white ball cricket? :)