Mills and Malan Called Up

With the fifth day of the 3rd test effectively a washout, the big news yesterday was the announcement of England’s limited overs squads to play Sri Lanka. The ODI squad was pretty much as expected, but the T20 squadron contains a couple of interesting names.

First let’s look at the 50 over squad. It’s pretty much the same team that lost to South Africa, but certainly didn’t disgrace themselves, a few months ago. The only real change is Jonny Bairstow coming in for the retired James Taylor. I don’t think too many will argue with that decision.

The main talking point is the continued absence of Stuart Broad. It’s quite an interesting situation. I don’t mind that Broady isn’t playing because it’s good for him to rest after a test series. We want him fresh, fit and firing for the test series against Pakistan.

However, Broad hasn’t been omitted because he’s being rested. He simply hasn’t been picked; therefore the selectors do no think he’s one of the best five 50-over seam bowlers in the country. Am I the only one who thinks this is a little odd?

Broad is surely head and shoulders above the likes of Willey and Jordan. Broad has told the media that he wants to play ODIs but the selectors obviously prefer other cricketers. Personally, when the Champions Trophy and the World Cup come round, I’d like Broad to lead the attack. Wickets are crucial in ODIs. Perhaps England’s management disagree.

I’m also slightly surprised that Jake Ball isn’t in the party. Having being named in the test squad, I assumed the selectors might see the ODIs as an ideal opportunity to see what he can do on the international stage. Instead they’ve kept faith with guys like Chris Jordan, who hasn’t really nailed down a place after 27 outings.

The T20 squad was always going to be a little more interesting because Hales, Root and Moeen have been rested. That means there was more opportunity to look at new faces. As it happens, the new faces include Dawid Malan and the much talked about Tymal Mills, who is the fastest bowler in county cricket.

Let’s deal with Malan first. Although some might see this selection as a little leftfield, Malan did really well in T20 cricket for the Lions during the winter. He’s also been earmarked as a potential England player (particularly in limited overs cricket) for some time. His record in first class cricket isn’t outstanding but his 50 over and T20 stats are pretty good. I’m not at all surprised that England have decided to have a look at him – especially as he plays for Middlesex. Ahem.

As for Mills, I imagine his performance for Sussex against Somerset in the Blast a few days ago caught the eye. He bowled very quickly, added some good slower balls for variation, and cleaned up a somewhat rattled Chris Gayle.

Because he bowls so quickly, Mills has been touted as an international player for some time. The truth is, however, that his career has been one big disappointment so far. His first class average is 37 and his list A average is 36. Injuries certainly haven’t helped him. In fact, he has a congenital back condition that has already forced him to retire from the longer form of the game.

However, it could well be that Mills finds a niche in T20 cricket, where his stats are outstanding: he takes his wickets at 21 and has an economy of 8. Because he only has to bowl four overs, Mills can bend his back (if you forgive the expression), shake up the opposition, and then have a good rest. Everybody wins … expect the batting side of course.

It will be interesting to see if Mills can have a similar impact to Shaun Tait, who is the most obvious example of a genuinely quick, injury-prone, T20 specialist. I certainly hope so. He’s great fun to watch.

The final name we should probably talk about is Liam Dawson, who seems to be maturing quite nicely at Hampshire. Although Dawson isn’t an entirely new name, this time he’s the only spinner in the squad; therefore he’s expected to play.

A few years ago, Dawson bowled nothing more than innocuous darts. I look forward to seeing how he’s improved his game. He’s also a useful batsman. In fact, batting always used to be his primary suit.

ODI squad Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Chris Jordan, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, James Vince, David Willey, Chris Woakes

 T20 squad Eoin Morgan (capt), Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Liam Dawson, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Tymal Mills, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, James Vince, David Willey

James Morgan


  • I watched the game against Somerset and it was equally amusing and eye-opening to see Chris Gayle, scourge of IPL dobbers, so horribly overmatched.

    • I meant the only off spinner. The talk is that Dawson will play as a straight swap for Moeen.

  • Bayliss did make a comment in his interview about the fact that they ‘know what Broad / Anderson can do’. Broad will have a lot of bowling to do between now and 2019 when he will be 33ish, I have no problem with them managing his workload now.

    Whatever the official line is about the best bowlers, I do get the impression that England and Bayliss are still in a bit of a trial period and assessing all the options. Topley has come and gone (for now), Willey has taken wickets at the top of the order so stays, Woakes has bowled consistently well and I thought Jordan and Plunkett bowled pretty well in the T20 World Cup. And for me, Finn just needs to bowl – the more he bowls, the better his rhythm, the better his confidence.

    While ideally they would put the best team out on all occasions, the ultimate goal is the next world cup, and they do need to put together a squad of fast bowlers who have good experience behind them. I’d rather they were a bit more experimental now, and 18 months out from the next world cup zeroed in on a group of 15/18 who will all head into 2019 with at least 30-50 ODIs behind them (some with a lot more). If Broad is still fit and bowling well, I’d be happy to see him involved.

    Recent England World Cup campaigns going back 20 years have always seen major changes to the side in the 6-12 months before the competition which is why performances have been generally crap.

    I do think you’re a bit harsh on Jordan – he had a lot of questions to answer before the winter but has made massive strides over the last 6 months. He kept his cool in pressure situations in the World Cup and, although I didn’t see all of it, he had some good performances in the IPL. For me, he’s a bit like Hales as a test opener – he hasn’t completely sold me that he’s the man, but he has made big strides and improved his game and is worth sticking with for now.

    Which leaves Ball – I’d like to see what he can do, but I look at the bowling line up and can’t see who he’d replace.

    • Hi Hamish. I actually think they’ve identified a group of limited overs players they like and they intend to stick with them by and large – so they don’t fall into the chopping and changing mode that has undermined them in the past (as you rightly point out). Topley is injured, otherwise it’s pretty much the same squad that went to South Africa.

      Re: Jordan, I think he’s made progress in T20 cricket but his recent performances in ODIs have been poor. His figures in South Africa were 0-56 in just 5 overs the first ODI, 0-33 in 5 overs in the second ODI, and then 1-51 in 7 overs in the 3rd. He was then dropped for the last two games.

      I’ve not seen that much of Ball, which is one of the reasons I’m eager to see him play more. I can understand them leaving him out as his list A stats aren’t quite as good as his first class ones, I’m just a little surprised they’ve done so. I really thought they were keen on him. He seemed to be flavour of the month a few weeks ago. I’m not a particular fan of any of our ODI seamers to be particularly honest, so I wouldn’t be too fussed who he replaced in the squad if they decided to take a look at him.

      • Take your point about Jordan, but don’t his improved T20 performances show that the work and time they’ve put in with him over the winter is beginning to bear fruit? Add to that his experience in the IPL where he bowled a lot of death overs at the business end of the tournament and his start to the English summer where he’s been taking wickets and bowling well in white ball cricket, it just makes no sense to me to leave him out now.

        I kind of agree with you about Ball, but I can’t really make a case for him replacing anybody in that squad at the moment. Remember, they have had him with them for the last few weeks – maybe they’re not completely sold on him yet either….

        I actually quite like our seam bowling options. Finn will always take wickets, as will Willey with the new ball, Woakes and Jordan are improving all the time. I’ve never been overly convinced by Plunkett, but he bowled relatively well over the winter. There’s not necessarily any superstars (apart from Finn when he bowls his best), but I think they can become a good solid unit. Add in Wood, Topley (not convinced yet), Broad and Stokes (who needs to improve ODI bowling), and we’re starting to build a decent squad of bowlers. Most of them can bat a bit as well, which helps.

        Take an optimism pill, James!

        • I’m generally pretty optimistic about our ODI team. Especially the batting. But I just can’t get enthusiastic about the bowling. It looks very average in all departments to me. I do like Wood though, so when he’s fit I think he could be a genuine wicket-taking option.

    • I think Taylor’s retirement has given him a little breathing space but he needs to score some runs fast. Definitely under pressure in my book.

  • It is a shame they have not picked a proper keeper in the ODI squad. Eventually England will need to pick one for tests (Bairstow need not worry, he merits selection as a bat) and this was a chance to see if Billings can do the Alec Stewart role or if England will need to look at the likes of Foakes. Billings may not be Knott or Taylor (neither was Stewart) but by all reports and from what I have seen he is much better with the gloves than Bairstow or Buttler. A missed opportunity.

    On Broad I am pleased the selectors have left him out. Not because of his ability (he merits selection) but because he has knee tendonitis which is a chronic condition, needs managing and can be aggravated by overuse. Keep him for tests.

    • I’m also pleased that Broad isn’t in the squad, I’m just not sure of the reasoning why. I’ll be pretty bemused if he isn’t opening the bowling in the Champions Trophy … that’s if we’re serious about winning the thing.

    • What has Buttler done wrong with the gloves in ODI cricket?

      In 15 matches since the world cup, he’s averaged 47 with a strike rate of over 140 and scored 3 tons. I can’t remember any glaring errors with the gloves.

      • I haven’t watched him since the WC, and I m not questioning his batting (although I do think he is a strictly white ball bat), but anyone who has watched his keeping over the years recognises club standard. I have two simple tests, one classic, one my own. Does he look secure standing up and would you trust him to stand up to quicker (not fast) bowlers? I have seen him make too many errors standing up over the years to consider him a keeper rather than a stopper. My other test is ‘what happens with outfield returns?’. A good keeper should never (or hardly ever) drop return throws and should look comfortable moving for throws. I have seen Buttler drop several throws and misjudge where he should be to best take returns. Not a keeper, never will be.

    • Eventually, Bairstow will be a ‘proper’ keeper. If he maintains his rate of improvement.

  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained for these games so I look forward to seeing Malan and Mills in the t20 side. Would have liked to have seen more of Billings, especially in the ODI format.

  • I am alarmed at a few things from this squad…
    Firstly, why the hell is sam billings not in the 50 over side? Compare his record to bairstows in list a cricket, not a single indicator is Bairstow better than billings. Sure he’s playing well in test matches but I thought the selectors had decided against picking on red ball form. Bairstow has been pretty poor in domestic white ball cricket with just the odd decent performance for the last year+. Billings omission simply devalues the rlodc which so far this season has seen brilliant cricket.

    I’m glad to see malan in the t20 side atleast, of the uncapped players I’ve seen live over the last 2 years he is right up there, I think he will play a fair bit of international cricket. Mills also is probably our best t20 bowler and I don’t think that is an exaggeration – he has brilliant skills.

    I’m still disappointed too that Dawson is picked as a spinner. I think he is one of the better players on the circuit but I don’t see any need for him in the batting line up (hales Roy root buttler Morgan stokes full strength) and as all the bowlers can bat really well down the order you’d think they would pick the best spinner. They clearly see it different but I think the best white ball spinner is parry, whilst it would not hurt to play ansari, perhaps even crane (though if this were to happen please God don’t expect him to win games just yet) who have potential to be very very good.

    • I’m not sold on Dawson either.

      I find the whole situation with Ansari bizarre – he was in the squad for the UAE, broke his finger and hasn’t been mentioned since. Surely, whatever they saw in him last August hasn’t disappeared.

      I do like Parry – would be good to have him in the mix somewhere. I’d actually like to have someone like him as an out and out spinner in the picture for the test squad on the upcoming winter tours – I was unconvinced by Rashid in the UAE. How’s Monty going this summer so far?

      • Ansari hasn’t been in great form since he came back, but I agree that it seems odd to consider him good enough to be in the test squad and then leave him out of games which would have been an ideal reintroduction.

        I did think Dawson was a very ordinary spinner who displaced Briggs at Hampshire because he could bat – but watching him this afternoon in the RL game at Bristol his bowling seems to have improved greatly. I am still not convinced but he is worth a look.

        For Crane it looks much too early. He is not a big spinner (compared with Rashid) and if we insist on playing one leg spinner who will offer a ‘hit me’ ball each over I prefer Rashid as he gives it a proper tweak on the other five.

      • Parry doesn’t play FC cricket. Kerrigan is going well in that for lancs, monty is a different bowler I don’t think we should expect him to be back to international standard, even if we’d all love it to happen. Dawson is a brilliant cricketer but I don’t think he fits into this side…

  • Nice to see Lyth rediscovering some form.
    And this is a sentence to gladden (unless you hail from the wrong side of the Pennines):
    “It was Yorkshire’s biggest ever winning margin and Lancashire’s biggest ever losing margin in List A cricket….”

  • Broad really is an odd one. His ODI was superb. Was…

    Debut until end of 2011 World Cup: 76 matches, 130 wickets @ 25.69, SR 29.7, ER 5.18.

    Since then: 45 matches, 48 wickets @ 42.16, SR 42.16, ER 5.40.

    I know he’s suffered from injuries and being rested – neither helps for rhythm (though being rested obviously has big advantages) – but his record over the past 5 years is really poor. He played a couple of ODIs in South Africa and was crap.

    I understand that England don’t have a top ODI bowler, except when Finn is firing, but Broad’s not offering much evidence for being one. Which is a great shame because we all know how good he can be in the format.

    There’s some similarity to KP, whose ODI career was in all-time-great territory and then suddenly he was crap for years, averaging mid-20s.

    Would be interested to hear theories on why Broad’s ODI career has taken such a nose dive?


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