England's late T20 collapse against South Africa means opportunity now knocks for Dawid Malan

Chris Stocks
Evening Standard
Getty Images
Getty Images

In the aftermath of England's one-run defeat by South Africa on Wednesday night, there was one very pertinent question. Why is Dawid Malan not in this T20 team?

The 32-year-old former Middlesex batsman, who has moved to Yorkshire this winter, scored an unbeaten century in his last T20 international against New Zealand at Napier back in November.

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In nine innings for England in this format, he also has five more 50-plus scores and only four other players in the history of T20 internationals can better his strike-rate of 156.31.

Expect England to call on him for Friday's second match of the series in Durban, with captain Eoin Morgan generous in his appraisal of where Malan is in terms of selection.

“He’s striking at 150 and averaging 50,” said Morgan. “He’s an exceptional player and given the success of the white-ball team over a short period of time he’s a little bit of a victim of that.

“Dawid has done everything he needs to do to be in the squad, he just needs to wait for an opportunity and hopefully he’ll take it.”

Jonny Bairstow, a player who was on the fringes of the one-day team for years before establishing himself and playing a key role in last summer’s World Cup win, is an example Malan can follow.

“Jonny has been there before,” said Morgan. “He knows exactly how it feels. Jonny went through a long period of time averaging 100 and couldn’t get in the 50-over team and it was extremely frustrating for him but I always use him as an example after he waited two years for an opportunity and ended up being one of our best batsmen.

“Hopefully he’ll go down as one of our best ODI batsmen of all-time. There’s extreme competition for places, it’s a very healthy sign.”

Malan could follow the example set by Jonny Bairstow (AFP via Getty Images)
Malan could follow the example set by Jonny Bairstow (AFP via Getty Images)

Malan is not deemed good enough to get into England’s best XI in T20 cricket purely because, if he plays, he needs to bat at the top of the order.

One way of managing that would be to drop Jos Buttler down to no6 and hand him the finisher’s role that will prove crucial to England’s chances in the T20 World Cup in Australia this autumn.

Buttler, arguably England’s most destructive white-ball batsman, is ­currently opening with Jason Roy, with Bairstow down at no3. It would make sense to reunite Bairstow and Roy as openers in T20 cricket given how well they have combined in the 50-over game.

Roy scored 70 from 38 balls on Wednesday evening in East London but England folded, losing four wickets in the final seven balls with just seven runs needed, after Morgan holed out to Beuran Hendricks in the penultimate over.

“Getting out the last ball of the 19th over was horrifically bad given my ­experience and how much I’ve played,” said Morgan. “Even still, we should look to win games like that.

“I know we have played in a lot of close games recently but we want guys exposed to as many high-pressure ­situations like this as we can ahead of the World Cup. We have to find a way to get over the line and for us it’s about learning.”

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