Dawid Malan expects internal competition and a “never say die” approach to serve England’s Twenty20 side well as they look to bounce back from defeat.
Having dominated Australia in the preceding one-day campaign, in which they eased to a 4-1 victory, the tourists slumped to a five-wicket loss in their opening match of the Trans-Tasman Series.
Malan’s fluent 50 had positioned them for a major total in Hobart only for a middle-order wobble to leave the bowlers defending a modest target of 156.
The hosts were duly carried home by Glenn Maxwell’s unbeaten century, a feat of ball-striking brilliance that might have been stopped in its tracks had the third umpire not controversially overturned Jason Roy’s low catch.
The teams meet again in Melbourne on Saturday, scene of their curtain-raising win in the first ODI, and Malan expects to see a reaction.
“It’s one of the main traits of the whole England team, we have that never say die attitude,” he said.
“That’s the beauty of this T20 team. Everybody is fighting for a spot. Everyone wants to push the other guy out and everyone is trying to do everything they can to perform to help the team win. At the end of the day if you produce match-winning performances you play a lot longer.”
Malan’s emphasis on competition for places in the away dressing room is, perhaps, telling.
He made his international debut in a T20 against South Africa seven months ago, earning man-of-the-match honours for a vibrant 78, yet was not seen again in limited-overs cricket until Wednesday.
He may have played 10 Test matches in the intervening period but, for a 30-year-old latecomer to the highest level, there is a hunger to be involved across the board.
Malan watched from the sidelines throughout the recent 50-over campaign and has been left out of the forthcoming series against New Zealand. Indeed, he still awaits his debut in the format – an honour that will surely become an inevitability if he continues to bat with the assurance on show at the Bellerive Oval.
“There’s a World Cup coming up in 2019 and they (selectors) are looking ahead to that,” he said.
“They’ve obviously got their group of players and it’s nice to be in the 20 or 22 they’ve got their eyes on. Hopefully I can keep scoring runs and force my way into the squad because that’s the only way I can get an opportunity.
“It’s a tough team to break into and I just have to be patient. I’ve been patient for long enough in my career so if I keep scoring runs in the Twenty20 when I get opportunities hopefully that can put pressure on the guys in the squad.”
Australia’s match-winner, Maxwell, has endured his own frustrations in recent months.
The all-rounder was not required throughout the Ashes and left out of the one-day series until the final match after seeing his training methods questioned by captain Steve Smith.
Fans have been clamouring to see the ‘Big Show’ back in action and, with some powerful domestic form behind him, he has started the tri-series with a total of 143 runs in two unbeaten innings against New Zealand and England.
And he was keen to share the acclaim with Australian great Ricky Ponting, who has temporarily joined the coaching set-up for the T20s.
“I’ve made it pretty public that he’s one of my childhood idols and to have him on my side, in my corner and backing me is awesome,” Maxwell said.
“Just having little chats as well. We’ve obviously been doing a little bit of work off the field even just with my preparation, which has been pretty consistent over the last couple of games.
“(He’s) been outstanding.”