Dawid Malan has spent most of the past 12 months as the No.1-ranked batter in T20I cricket… and the No.1 complaint for many England analysts, who believe that his calm, measured, safety-first approach to massive run-scoring is an ironic strategy in a format that seems to get faster and more furious with each passing week.
Until his recall against India last summer, it barely seemed to hit Malan that that same trait might actually be rather more useful in the game’s longest, most measured format. “I thought I would never play another Test again,” he admitted on the third evening at the Gabba, after playing an innings that might yet reignite England’s Ashes campaign.
A cricketer is judged most by his Test Cricket performance – Malan
“You can do as well as you want in Twenty20 or 50-over cricket, but you’re judged a lot by your Test career at the end of it,” Malan said. “For us, an Ashes series is the biggest series of our calendar so to come here and get runs against this really good attack is very satisfying.
“I actually said to Rooty when were on 40 or 50 and the Barmy Army were singing, ‘I’ve really missed this’,” he added. “I’ve missed having someone trying to blow my head off all the time, the crowd going and the adrenaline going, playing against the best bowlers going around. Test cricket is the pinnacle.
“To be able to stand out here in an England shirt…I’m so proud to do that. Especially to do it here at The Gabba in front of everyone. It’s just really good fun.”
Negative comments in the past had hurt me – Malan
England’s former national selector, Ed Smith, had taken a dig at Malan back in 2018, not showing faith in his Test batting abilities. He later clarified his statement, saying that he meant it with best intentions, although it clearly didn’t seem like that.
In an emotional press conference after his recall for the Headingley Test last summer, Malan had said on the incident, “You work your socks off to earn the right to play for England but then you get comments that derail you,” he said. “It probably did affect me for four or five months and every time I went away for tournaments I couldn’t get in the right head space.”
Message in the dressing room was to go out and express ourselves – Malan
After the horrible first innings performance by England, very few would had backed them to come back so strongly in the second innings. But Root and Malan took the responsibility, scoring runs at a healthy pace and throwing away their wicket.
“We spoke this morning and said we wanted to express ourselves. The last thing we want to do is just be sitting ducks and go out and not score. So the chat was about playing the way we want to play. If they bowl good balls, defend them but if they bowl bad balls make sure that we still have the intent to score.
“After what we did in the first innings we needed to park that and put that aside. This needed to be a fresh innings. It’s really probably poor of me to say it, but we started so badly [that] we had to park it. The only way forward in this Test was to forget what happened in that first innings and hopefully put into practise all the things we’ve worked so hard on in those quarantine periods. That was the key for us.”