Dawid Malan thought ‘door was closed’ on England Test recall ahead of third Test against India

Dawid Malan thought ‘door was closed’ on England Test recall ahead of third Test against India

August 24, 2021

Dawid Malan says he thought the door was closed on any potential England Test recall and has described his return to Joe Root’s squad for the third Test against India as an “unbelievable feeling”.

Malan played the last of his 15 Tests back in 2018, against the same opponents, but is set to return to the England side at number three in the batting order at Headingley on Wednesday.

Speaking to Sky Sports on the eve of the crucial clash – England trailing 1-0 in the five-match series – Malan said: “To be back here is an unbelievable feeling.

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“I didn’t really think it would ever happen again, I must admit. I thought my Test door was closed, so to get another opportunity is fantastic.

“Hopefully, you go out and do your best and you do better than you did last time.”

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Malan averaged 27.84 across 26 innings during his first stint in the Test side, the highlight of which was a magnificent 140 in the 2017/18 Ashes Test in Perth.

England lost the series 4-0, though Malan would finish as the tourists’ leading run-scorer. Seven months later he was dropped, with then national selector Ed Smith suggesting his game may be better suited to overseas conditions – an observation that has proven difficult to shake.

“I think at the time when you get dropped you’re very emotional, you feel you should be playing,” Malan told reporters.

“You work your absolute socks off in your career to earn the right to play for England and you get that call. I didn’t score enough runs, especially in those last four or five Tests, so it was about the right time. But to then have comments that derail you slightly as a player and get pigeonholed into things, it probably did affect me.”

In the intervening years, Malan has gone on to force his way into England’s T20 first team and is currently the world’s number one ranked batsman in the format, averaging 43.19 across his 30 caps.

A slight concern, however, could be that his white-ball successes have come at the expense of time in the middle in the red-ball game, although he did score 199 in his one first-class outing for Yorkshire this year – at Headingley.

“Yes, not playing a lot of red-ball cricket probably doesn’t help with the rhythms and the flows of Test cricket but that’s the challenge that we as players have,” Malan said.

“I think we all know how tough English conditions can be at times; a good 30 or 60 is not good enough really, you want to score those big hundreds and to do that you have to bat for a day, day and a half.

“That’s where the challenge comes when you don’t play a lot of red-ball cricket, but I don’t think we’d be here if we didn’t believe we could do it.”

And it is that more positive outlook which Malan is trying to take with him into this series, adding: “When I was playing Test cricket to start with, if you had a bad score or two, you doubted yourself over whether you belonged.

“I wanted it so badly; I was trying so hard, in the lead up to games I was burning myself out from a mental point of view, trying so hard at training – batting for hours, endlessly doing things.

“Now I’m three years along the line and I’ve had the experience of playing 50-over and T20 cricket for England over a period of time, that puts you in good stead.

“Hopefully this time round I’ve learnt from those lessons and, from the emotional side of things, you can put the failures behind you and move on.”

Finally, with England set to tour Australia again this winter, Malan was asked whether was eyeing up a spot in another Ashes squad?

“I’d love to have another crack down there,” he said. “It was obviously a disappointing tour not to have won a game, but to have got some runs was nice.

“But the only way I’m getting to Australia is if I earn the right here, if I play well in these three games.”

Watch day one of the third Test between England and India at Headingley, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am on Wednesday.

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