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Paul Nixon column – Malan’s earned call but why only one game?

England have announced their squads for the upcoming ODIs and single T20 against Sri Lanka, and it looks like a very bright future ahead with Dawid Malan being picked for the first time.

Malan, who has been named in the T20 squad, is somebody that I’ve watched and admired for many years.

He has won a lot of games for Middlesex in limited-overs cricket and this call-up has been a long time coming.

He’s left-handed, and they are always pleasing on the eye, and is someone who can play 360 degrees. He will clear the ropes both sides of the wicket and has plenty of experience in T20 cricket.

It’s nice that the selectors have picked someone who has really earned their place. Malan has been on the radar for a while, having had a wonderful winter with the Lions, which he has continued this season for his county.

The ability has always been there and now he has the chance to show what he can do on the international stage against the world’s best.

He has been unlucky not to have played one-day cricket for his country before. I remember him scoring a brilliant, and quick, century against Lancashire in the T20 quarter-finals eight years ago and it’s somewhat surprising that it’s taken this long for him to be called up.

He’s a quiet guy who goes about his business in an extremely professional manner. He’s not flamboyant and you won’t see his name pop up in the Press, but on the field he is top class.

It’s a shame that he’s only going to get one game to showcase his ability with the scheduling of five ODIs and just the one T20. I would much rather see three of each. The World T20 is set to be held every two years compared to every four for the 50-over World Cup so I cannot understand the scheduling of just one T20 compared to five ODIs.

Jonny Bairstow is back in the squads having not been selected for the limited-overs section of the South Africa tour and there are potentially three keepers in that T20 squad with Jos Buttler and Sam Billings also being chosen.

It is tough because you want dual-role players, hence why most of the bowlers are more than handy with the bat.

Billings is probably the best keeper, technically, closely followed by Jos but Sam didn’t keep in his spell at the IPL and proved himself to be a very handy outfielder.

Alex Hales and Joe Root have both been rested from the T20 squad and it’s a great decision – it is what central contracts are all about. England have to keep looking after these guys and this is the perfect opportunity to let them refresh and recover.

From the players’ point of view, Alex Hales missed the start of the county season to rest so I’m sure he will still be full of energy but these players understand. That doesn’t stop them wanting to play every game though!

I’m just delighted that Hales has worked so hard on his technique. His hands are much closer to his back hip so he now has a much clearer idea where his off-stump is. He is playing the ball later and leaving the ball better.

That first Test century is just a matter of time and I think that he learned a lot from his dismissal in the first innings at Lord’s. He went for a big swipe but the more he bats with Alastair Cook at the other end he will discover that it’s about batting time.

You don’t need to rush things, that’s what the likes of Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow are there for.

That Hales and Root have been rested from the T20 squad has opened the spots for others and Tymal Mills has been selected for the first time.

Like Malan, he is another who has been there or thereabouts for a little while.

He impressed in a match against an England XI while playing for Essex in 2013 but now it’s about his fitness.

His back condition means he is limited to the shortest form of the game but he needs to make sure now that he peaks at the right time.

Mills can ramp it up and we all know that Liam Plunkett and Steven Finn, who hasn’t been selected, can regularly reach 90mph, too, but I also think that Harry Gurney still has a huge future ahead of him in an England shirt.

I think he has been pushed to one side too early. He is still one of the best death bowlers in this country and I was disappointed not to see him selected in either squad.

This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, Friday June 17 2016

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