Dawid Malan scored 14 runs from his first three legitimate deliveries in the third T20I against South Africa on Tuesday evening in Newlands. It was an unusually quick start for a known slow starter. The rest of his innings, however, was nothing unusual. The runs went like in his last 18 games. Its 99 not out came from just 47 deliveries.
Malan’s T20I record is remarkable. After 19 games it averages 53. 43, has scored nine half centuries and a hundred and has a hit rate of 149. 47. That’s a better record than Babar Azam or Virat Kohli at the same stage in their careers. It remains to be seen if Malan can maintain his constant form but there is no doubt that he has good value for his number one in T20I cricket.
It is true, however, that 19 matches are not a particularly large sample. If Malan still has an average of over 50 like Babar and Kohli in two or three years, he’s done exceptionally well. In his defense, his 19 games were spread over three and a half years. It’s not like he’s had a few golden months. As with T20I headlights, there were many gaps between them. Even so, Malan kept his shape. Its recording cannot be called an aberration. It’s far better than that.
Yet there is still a feeling that Malan has to justify his place again and again. That he only holds the fort until his form falls off and Joe Root can get back to the side. Malan’s relatively slow starts are held against him. In the second game of this series at Paarl he had 25 of 30 balls. It is cited as the type of innings that shows Malan’s pick is a risk. What if he got out then? It would probably have been a match that would have lost innings.
The concern has a certain value. A slow start, especially with PowerPlay, can waste balls that other batsmen could benefit from. If Malan eats up supplies and then falls cheaply, England could lose a game, especially in a big chase or on a flat field. He previously admitted he can start his innings slowly. It is not intended. It just happens that way sometimes.
He will no doubt hope for more starts, like on Tuesday in Newlands. « It was a good start to go out and meet them like me, to miss the field early, » he said. « In the last four or five games I feel like I’m on the field very early. So it was nice to get some momentum. « . I think I play the same way every time. Sometimes it resolves and sometimes it doesn’t. I know that I have the power. It’s just whether I can use that at the right time in the game to capitalize on it. «
Even Malan knows that slow starting is a risk. However, it is also important to understand the likelihood of this risk crystallizing.
For that purpose, we’ll assume that an inning with a hit rate of less than 120 that takes more than five deliveries is bad. It’s a rough generalization, but it’ll get the job done for now. Seven of Malan’s T20I innings qualify. On that basis, the risk that Malan would hit slowly and potentially get England into trouble was a little more than one in three. For comparison, Root has played 13 out of 30 T20I innings that meet these criteria, or approximately 43%.
While a third of his innings was a fight – a higher percentage than desirable – the counterpoint is the quality of the other two-thirds. Malan did not only do a good job in these. He did an excellent job. In the other 12 games, it averages 83. 66. His hit rate for those innings is 160. Many of these punches were match-defining innings. Malan has proven time and again that he can do the job for England, even if he often started slowly.
What if England reach the World Cup final next year and Malan scores ten balls out of twelve and it costs her the game? That is of course a risk. But is it a greater risk than Root or anyone else to play the same innings? No. As Jason Roy’s fights on this series demonstrated, any batsman can have a day off. Based on his current stats, the risk of Malan playing a bad inning in a World Cup final is well outweighed by the likelihood that he will win England a World Cup final.
Then there are the workarounds for slow scoring. First, Malan was particularly good at catching up on his batting average after a slow start. In the second game at Paarl, he scored 30 runs from his last ten deliveries, which ensured the game was all but won for England by the time he was released. In 25 out of 30 deliveries, there was a risk that Malan could have lost the game for his team. The only thing that matters is that he didn’t.
Almost a third of his T20I innings has a hit rate of 150 or more. This is 16% cheaper compared to Roots. During Malan’s Hundred against New Zealand in Napier last year and in his 99 not in Newlands on Tuesday, he scored more than two runs on each ball. This won’t always be the case, of course, but Malan has proven he has more than the ability to accelerate quickly. He also did it consistently.
There are also opportunities to develop your game. Malan’s quick start in Cape Town has shown that he has the game to move quickly. He admitted he had to find the gaps early in order to fix them. He has shown that he can. He just has to do it more regularly. Just because Malan can start slowly doesn’t mean he will always do it.
Then there is the depth of the field around it. Malan has some serious strikers above and below him in order. Jos Buttler and Roy are two of the most explosive openers in the world. Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan have the ability to score quickly almost instantly, while Ben Stokes is no fool either. Malan doesn’t work in a vacuum. If he folds cheaply or consumes supplies, England must catch up with other players.
None of this means that Malan’s form will last indefinitely. None of that means Malan’s slow starts won’t be returning to haunt him at some point. As any well-worth financial advisor will tell you, past performance is not necessarily a guarantee of future rewards. Malan knows that. He was very open about it. And with the likes of Root and Sam Billings waiting in the wings, he also knows he has to maintain that level of performance in order to keep his place.
For now, however, there should be more focus on the advantages rather than constantly investigating the possible disadvantages of Malan’s game. They are the perks that have earned him over fifty points every other inning in T20Is. Malan’s place on England’s side should not be discussed as he performs. It should be one of the first names on the team sheet.
English cricket team, South African national cricket team, Dawid Malan, cricket, Twenty20 International, Australian men’s cricket team, Jos Buttler
World News – USA – Early acceleration contributes to Malans Growth in repertoire
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