Dawid Malan resists option to drop down batting order to boost England’s T20 World Cup hopes

Dawid Malan has considered batting down the order in a bid to become a regular in England’s Twenty20 side but came to the conclusion that a role change ahead of this year’s World Cup is not worth the gamble.

Despite an extraordinary record in 10 T20 internationals, averaging 52.11 with a strike-rate of 153.77, Malan is not an automatic selection and featured only once in England’s recent 2-1 series win over South Africa.

Jos Buttler, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow all covet a top-three spot, where Malan has thrived on the domestic and international stage, while Somerset firecracker Tom Banton is also waiting in the wings.

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Competition is not as fierce below that and Malan admitted he has wrestled with the idea of reinventing himself as a T20 finisher with new county Yorkshire if the Vitality Blast goes ahead this season.

But he is aware a blip in form could lead to him being jettisoned by England entirely just a few months before the T20 World Cup in Australia, which organisers are hopeful will still take place from October 18 to November 15.

Malan told the PA news agency: “If I go and have 10 innings where I don’t score runs for Yorkshire, I’m not going to get picked for England, that’s ultimately the aim of the game.

“If I was told ‘you’re going to be part of the England squad for the next six months, whether or not you score runs in county cricket’ then you’d be open to batting in different positions and experimenting.

“If you’re not in the main England side as a regular, just to keep being part of that set-up, you have to score runs consistently in county cricket and the best place for me to score runs is the top three in Twenty20 cricket.

“It is something that I’ve thought about but, ultimately, scoring runs keeps you in and around that England set-up. If you don’t score runs then you get left out. It’s a tough one.”

Malan should now be settling into pre-season with Yorkshire after his switch from Middlesex earlier this year but the global coronavirus pandemic means all cricket in this country has been postponed until at least May 28.

A shortened campaign beckons, if anything can be salvaged at all, and means everyone will have to hit the ground running, something Malan is familiar with following his stints on the domestic T20 franchise circuit.

He said: “When you play these tournaments, you’re expected as an overseas player to perform and if you don’t perform you don’t get another contract the year after.

“You’re always under pressure to score runs from the get go. Hopefully those experiences will help me when I play for Yorkshire when we eventually start.”

When the Covid-19 outbreak was starting to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar earlier this month, Malan had already reluctantly decided to end his stay at the Pakistan Super League to return home.

He said: “There were talks about the borders and flights being cancelled, so we got really concerned that we could potentially not get back to the UK, that was our biggest concern.

“It’s tough to make that decision to leave a team but there are bigger things in life than playing cricket. We do take sport, myself included, very, very seriously, sometimes too seriously, and this puts it into perspective.”

Asked how he is enjoying his break from the domestic and international treadmill, Malan joked: “I still walk around about 80 per cent of the time playing shots in the house which drives my wife insane.”


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BHA plan for racing to restart on Flat to limit demand on NHS

Horse racing chiefs plan to restart the sport with Flat meetings, to reduce the demand on the NHS and emergency services.

The British Horseracing Authority's operational plan has May 1 as the aim for races to return without obstacles, as incidents are less likely from a safety aspect.

The National Hunt season finished just days after the Cheltenham Festival, to protect vital services and the health of staff working in the industry during the coronavirus outbreak.

A short trial of meetings without spectators took place and this method is due to be implemented again during the restart.

The ten-page plan from the BHA, released yesterday, says: "We are already anticipating that the initial return to racing is likely to be phased and almost certainly behind closed doors.

"This reflects the likelihood that any easing of the Covid-19 situation, and any associated restrictions and pressures on medical services, will also happen progressively.

"With that in mind, we also expect any return to racing to begin, at least initially, with Flat racing, principally for reasons of safety and to minimise demands on emergency services.

"While every effort will be made to subsequently resume jumping at the earliest opportunity, possibly with the scheduling of some jumpers’ bumpers cards, it may assist jumps trainers to judge whether horses can/should be turned out or kept in training."

Over the next few weeks, BHA executives will make sure everything is in place for race meetings to resume, helping participants and making the most of financial support available.

The BHA has informed the government of the pandemic's economic impact on the sport.

It is estimated racing is worth an estimated £4.1 billion to the UK economy, employing around 20,000 people directly.

Although May 1 is the target to work towards, the BHA has said that is not set in stone.

"We cannot yet set out a timetable for resumption. No one can," the plan added.

"Our ability to keep resources in place, horses exercised and ready to return to action, will be tested. The industry’s leaders would like to give more certainty over dates, but it is too early to do at present."

The document details five different work streams to support racing through coronavirus; finance, people, equine health and welfare, resumption, and recovery.

Speaking on behalf of the group, a spokesman said: “The industry group is working hard to meet the needs of the racing industry in this period of great uncertainty.

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Ask Nasser and 'Bumble'! Our columnists answer the important questions

Ask NASSER and BUMBLE: The greatest bowler? England’s next superstar? The best ground for grub? Our columnists answer the important cricket questions

  • Sportsmail‘s Nasser Hussain and David Lloyd answer pressing cricket questions
  • Hussain and Bumble name the players with whom they would like to self-isolate
  • Hussain reveals which opponent bowled the most ‘frightening’ deliveries

There may be no cricket at present, but there is still much to discuss, and Sportsmail columnists Nasser Hussain and David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd are on hand to answer some important question.

Nasser and Bumble recall the best catches they’ve ever taken, while also revealing how they’ve been dealing with the sporting lockdown.

The pair also give details of what it was like to represent England in the 1990s and name the players they’s like to see captaining the side in the future..

David Lloyd (centre) and Nasser Hussain (R) answer cricket questions in the sporting lockdown

What’s the best innings you’ve seen played at close quarters?

NASSER: I saw a lot of Graham Gooch close up at Essex and he was just remarkable in the 1990s. But the one that sticks in my mind is Mark Butcher’s 173 not out against Australia at Headingley in 2001. He was such a nice, popular lad who had been left out of the squad for that match before I changed my mind. Then Butch had his day in the sun.

BUMBLE: I was umpiring at Taunton in 1986 when Viv Richards smacked a hundred for Somerset against Glamorgan off 48 balls. He just kept hitting it into the river! Sensational stuff.

Who bowled the fastest deliveries you ever faced?

NASSER: Brett Lee, especially on a quick pitch at the WACA, was frightening. Allan Donald when he was raw just ran up and hurled it without knowing where it was going, and something would click with Shoaib Akhtar and he would suddenly go from 90mph to 97mph.

BUMBLE: Jeff Thomson. Did I ever tell you about the time he hit me in the box? The modern day lads would refute it but there are plenty who think Thommo was the fastest of all time. What I do know is that he were certainly rapid.

Nasser Hussain says Australia’s Brett Lee was the most fearsome bowler he ever faced

What was the best catch you took, who was dismissed and can you describe it?

BUMBLE: It was a Roses match and Richard Lumb clipped one. I was at leg-slip, where I’d just gone a bit wider, anticipated his shot and dived to my left where it stuck in my mitt six inches off the ground. I had a bit of a run around after that one.

NASSER: There was one at point in a one-day game against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge when Sanath Jayasuriya slapped it at me and I caught it one-handed diving to my weaker left side. But the best came early in my career at my home ground of Valentines Park in Ilford, when I ran in from the boundary and caught someone low down. Can’t remember who.

Did you ever go out to bat without a box by accident? What happened?

NASSER: No. And once you’ve been hit there, as I’m sure Bumble will confirm, you never go out unprotected.

BUMBLE: No, especially after being hit there by Thommo. Always be prepared.

Nasser, did you take much notice of the press comments about your England captaincy? How easy is it to shut out criticism? Did you have a way of dealing with it?

NASSER: I listened to it, yes. I’d watch The Verdict on Sky and read the odd paper. I’ve always had a thick skin and my approach would be to try to prove people wrong if they criticised me. You realised that some were talking sense and you could learn something. I always listened to Mike Atherton and Mike Brearley when they wrote something about me or the game.

Hussain says he often felt determined to prove his critics wrong as England captain

Test batsmen play long innings using intense concentration. Are there any simple mind tricks a lower-level cricketer can use to relax between deliveries?

NASSER: Don’t build it up too much. A club cricketer could look forward to his innings all week and then put himself under too much pressure. Try to enjoy it!

BUMBLE: Just play the delivery and walk away. Switch on and then switch off between balls. I watched young Haseeb Hameed and after every ball he’d shadow play it about 20 times. It’s gone. Think about anything other than the last ball.

Who are currently the best young England-qualified batsman and bowler and what do you see in them?

BUMBLE: Dan Lawrence of Essex for razzmatazz, while Ollie Pope looks the complete batsman. And Saqib Mahmood has all the tools if he can get over his injuries. He’s quick enough and swings it.

NASSER: I’ve not seen too much of him, but with the bat Dan Lawrence’s stats in Australia on the Lions trip were phenomenal. And with the ball Saqib Mahmood has something about him. He could get reverse swing on the next Ashes trip.

Nasser and Bumble agree Essex’s Dan Lawrence is one of the best young batsmen in England

How are you dealing with the sporting lockdown?

NASSER: With lots of technology. I’m getting my young ’uns to download things like Zoom for me so I can do podcasts, and I’m enjoying some of the old cricket footage on my TV screen.

BUMBLE: I seem to be growing a beard and have done a lot of gardening.

Should Test players take a pay cut to help cash-strapped county players?

NASSER: I don’t think we’ve got to that stage yet, but the finances of the game will be perilous if this carries on long-term, especially for counties. When it’s all over, the game will have to reset.

BUMBLE: I’ve noticed footballers at some clubs are starting to take pay cuts and I guess if it happened in cricket that would be a good gesture of solidarity.

Nasser, how can you justify swapping your football allegiance from Leeds to Arsenal?

NASSER: It’s purely a regional thing! I was taken to watch Leeds by my brothers when I was young and I’ve always liked them, but when my kids came along I wanted to take them to watch a local team and I’ve always enjoyed the way Arsenal play. It’s Arsenal for me now — good and bad!

Nasser, when you had me by the throat at Tunbridge Wells in ’92 did you fear I was going to knock you out? – From former Essex and England bowler Mark Ilott

NASSER: Let’s give this some context. I’d had words with (Essex team-mate) Mark Waugh on the field and when we came back to the dressing room I was still ticking. I kicked out at Ilott’s ‘coffin’ and it landed on his foot as he came back from the shower. The biggest problem I had when he squared up to me was holding up a skinny Mark Ilott when he had absolutely nothing on. I stuck him on a coat peg but we were friends then and still get on now!

Would you rather face six balls from Jofra Archer or bowl six balls at Jos Buttler?

NASSER: Easy. Jos might hit me for 36 and make me look silly but Jofra could do serious damage. Only twice since I retired have I watched a spell of bowling and thought, ‘Thank goodness I don’t have to face that’ — Mitchell Johnson at the Gabba in 2013 and Jofra to Steve Smith at Lord’s last year. It was seriously dangerous.

BUMBLE: Jos would hit me into the middle of next week, but I’d fancy my chances of surviving six balls from Jofra. I’d just hope he didn’t bowl any no balls!

Bumble fancies his chances of surviving an over from England bowler Jofra Archer

Would you make it into today’s England Test team?

BUMBLE: Christ, no! I know I scored a double hundred for England once but that was about all I did. I’m like Rob Key in that respect.

NASSER: No, although it was my 52nd birthday on Saturday! I don’t like comparing eras but generally players are so much more skilful, fitter and stronger now.

If there had been decision reviews when you played, would you have better or worse numbers?

NASSER: I seemed to cop a few bad ones but I also got away with a lot. You always remember the bad ones, like the Wasim Akram lbw that pitched way outside leg-stump in Rawalpindi — I put my foot through a dressing room fridge afterwards! But if I’d been given out by Darrell Hair when I gloved one from Javagal Srinath during my first Test hundred, I might not have had an England career. It all evens itself up.

BUMBLE: I’d have had worse stats as a batsman and miles better ones as a spinner. I’d have certainly bowled a lot more because DRS gives you an extra stump. Don’t ask me, ask Shane Warne. He reckons he’d have got over 1,200 Test wickets with DRS!

How would you compare the depth and quality of international bowlers when you played and coached England in the 1990s to the current crop?

BUMBLE: By and large, I’d say the quality of opposition bowlers was better back then. I’m not sure there’s the depth now, even though there are some flippin’ good bowlers about.

NASSER: I never like saying it was better in my day, but I’m pleased I played in the era of some of the all-time greats like Warne, McGrath, Wasim, Waqar, Donald, Pollock, Walsh, Ambrose and Murali. There’s no question the quality went down but it’s coming back now through people like Archer and Rabada.

Bumble says Allan Donald was among a plethora of all-time great bowlers from the 1990s

Bumble, how many renditions of Sweet Caroline are you singing each day while isolated?

BUMBLE: I’m afraid it’s been parked for a while. I saw a video of my mate Pete Conway and his lad Robbie, who does a bit of singing, doing That’s Life by Frank Sinatra on stage and it were brilliant. As for Sweet Caroline, the main man Neil Diamond posted an updated version. ‘Hands, washing hands, reaching out, don’t touch me, I won’t touch you.’ So I’ll leave it to the master.

What and where are the best five lunches on the international circuit?

NASSER: Lord’s stands out by a country mile and everyone says Derby for some reason. I was so worried about facing their fast bowlers that I didn’t eat lunch there. India is great because I’m a big curry man. I also love the jerk chicken and rotis in the Caribbean.

BUMBLE: Lord’s is always top class. Lot of good seafood at the MCG and anywhere in New Zealand is good. And you get a cracking curry in Mumbai but lunchtime is a bit early for me.

Were the England team of the 1990s under-performers, poorly managed (no central contracts) or just rubbish?

NASSER: Good question. We had a rubbish coach! There were some special teams in that era and I didn’t think we had a bad team. Central contracts made a huge difference. Before then you were a county player who occasionally played for England and after contracts it was the other way around. It’s a very important change of mindset.

BUMBLE: Central contracts made all the difference. That England team in the ’90s were decent but other teams were miles better prepared. Ours would turn up two days before a Test.

Who would be the best and worst cricketers to be stuck with in self-isolation?

NASSER: The answer to both is Rob Key! He’s the most generous, funny person who always thinks of others, but he’s also the dullest man on the planet. He sent me a WhatsApp video today of him hitting golf balls into a blanket on his washing line having moved on from hitting them into a tent. Fascinating.

BUMBLE: England cricketer Laura Marsh would be the best! Nasser would be the worst, even though he’s always been an expert in self-isolating. We once had a break in Lake Taupo, New Zealand, between games and stayed in the same place. Nasser didn’t say a word to me in five days.

Nasser bears being stuck with ‘dullest man on the planet’ Rob Key in self-isolation

Do either of you still play any sort of cricket and when was the last time you picked up a bat?

NASSER: I got talked into playing a game for Alastair Cook and when I turned up there were thousands there and Tymal Mills was steaming in to bowl. Never again. I’ve moved on and, more importantly, my eyes have moved on.

BUMBLE: I played for Accrington 10 years ago, aged 62, when the club was struggling, but not since then. Never say never. My young grandson has started playing for the thirds and it would be a dream to play in the same team as him and my son. Watch this space!

Bumble hasn’t ruled out playing in the same Accrington team as his young grandson

Nasser, why did Sachin Tendulkar say you’re the best captain he played against?

NASSER: Because he’s a good judge of a captain! I actually have no idea but it was very nice of him to say that. He’s one of the greatest players the game has known — and the hardest to get out because he had no technical flaws. We had to think outside the box, like with Ashley Giles bowling down the leg-side, to try to get him out.

What do you hope we can still get out of this cricket season now the start has been delayed?

BUMBLE: I fear we’re a long way off getting some cricket. But everybody worldwide is in the same boat. There will be some hooley when all this is over.

NASSER: I’m still hoping we can get some Tests in towards the end of the summer, even if they have to be behind closed doors. The Hundred seems less likely now but I hope we get some cricket in and when it does come back I hope we all realise what we’ve been missing and appreciate it a bit more.

Who are the next Test and one-day captains of England?

BUMBLE: Ben Stokes will captain England some day, even though you could argue he’s got too much on his plate as it is. And Jos Buttler will be the next white-ball man.

NASSER: Joe Root will be around for some time, so I don’t think that will change for a while, but Jos Buttler would make a very good white-ball captain when Eoin Morgan calls it a day. Jos was very good in Bangladesh when he did it.

Nasser and Bumble agree Jos Buttler should one day succeed Eoin Morgan as England captain

If you had one over to take one wicket to win a Test, who would you throw the ball to?

BUMBLE: Shane Warne. He’d have fielders round the bat and would bring out his full box of tricks. There’d be a googly, a shooter, a zooter and a fluter. He’d want the ball, too.

NASSER: If it was someone I played with, it would be Darren Gough, who had that knack of making things happen in pressure situations. But if I was lucky enough to captain any cricketer it would be Shane Warne. He would just bamboozle people.

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Alastair Cook prepared to write off 2020 County Championship due to coronavirus

Former England captain Alastair Cook says he would prefer this year’s County Championship season to be scrapped rather than attempting to hold a dramatically shortened campaign.

The England and Wales Cricket Board announced earlier in the month that the county season would be postponed until at least May 28 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the first round of County Championship fixtures originally due to take place on April 12, the competition faces a lengthy delay and may have to be restructured if and when it is safe for the sport to return.

But Cook would prefer county cricket to focus on ‘one or two’ white-ball tournaments rather than play a shortened County Championship season.

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‘In this year, over the next six months, the bigger picture is the most important,’ England’s record run-scorer told BBC Radio 5 Live.

‘Whatever happens, if we do play any sort of cricket which hopefully we will, what I hope is that they don’t try and have a six-game County Championship or something like that.

‘I would rather have one or two full tournaments, because if you do then play that tournament or two tournaments it is so much more rewarding to win it.

‘If there is not time for a meaningful County Championship, say [you can only play] three or four games, there is probably not much sense us having it.

‘I would rather concentrate on two full tournaments rather than saying we have four tournaments that we need to play, let’s get them all in even if we have to shorten them.

‘I think you would rather have two tournaments played full length so that the there is meaningful cricket at the end of it.’

Cook helped Essex win the County Championship last summer but says he and his county team-mates are simply playing a waiting game to see if the season will start in the foreseeable future.

He added: ‘We just don’t know do we and as an Essex squad we are just doing what everyone else is doing.

‘We are just waiting to see when we are allowed back into the county ground, when we are able to meet up again and hit balls as a group. Up until that time we just have to sit and wait.’

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How cricketers are coping during coronavirus

Another day in self-isolation, another day without cricket… I’m not going crazy. Who said I was going crazy?!

As the days merge into one it’s getting harder to come up with ways to stay occupied at home and pretend we’re not missing cricket.

And it’s not just us fighting off the boredom. Cricket stars have got creative in lockdown and taken to their phone to keep us entertained and show us nifty ways to keep fit at home.

So sit back, relax, stay at home and check out the best of cricket social in self-isolation…

Teething troubles

Were you one of those like Jofra Archer who spent the first few days forgetting you couldn’t leave the house?

Wasim Akram was having some technical issues once training was cancelled. Someone help the poor guy out…

Only cricket fans could come up with the perfect analogy to describe the current situation. This is brilliant! Stokes/NHS do your thing, we’ll be over here wiping our glasses…

‘What do you mean, we can still play cricket?’

Don’t let Covid-19 stop you – there are still plenty of ways to keep up the skills training. Freya Ruth challenged her team-mates to the round-the-world challenge…

Danielle Gibson posted back with a cheeky hat catch!

The world of football may be all over the toilet roll challenge, but this post took it to a whole new level. Who’d have thought recreating the World Cup final using toilet roll would be just as epic?

Who doesn’t love recreating the big moments…?

Sam Curran is no stranger to having to play cricket in his back yard. He shared a cute video of him practising his batting at the age of three with a sock and again now and we are loving it!

All hail the #cricketsockswing…

And it’s not just batting. Sophie Luff got creative with some roof tiles for her self-isolation catching practice…

Tom Banton tried to get his dog to go in the slips but didn’t have much luck…

But Kane Williamson’s dog Sandy took to it like a pro – howzat!

If mum says so, maybe you could risk playing indoors like Shreyas Gopal…

And it’s not just cricketers who are getting their batting groove on. Rugby legend Dan Carter padded up with his son for a game in the back garden…

#HOMETEAM, home workouts and homies

Jimmy goes all superdad and gets his daughters to help him stay in shape…

Life after one week really hit home for Shikhar Dhawan…

But David Warner still looks like he’s managing to find time to keep up the skills…

Meanwhile, Jofra has another challenge in mind…

We don’t blame you for hitting the crisps. Who else is eating all the food while stuck in self-isolation? Guilty.

‘To all the cricket I loved before – I still miss you’

If you’re still missing cricket between all the cricket and workout challenges, iPlayer and Netflix binge watching, enjoy a good throwback like Ravi Ashwin.

Or give a thought to Jos Buttler, who is passing the time by help wife Louise demonstrate simple Pilates exercises. It’s not obvious at all how much he’s missing cricket…

After all the exercise and home workouts, you’ve earned yourself a nice sit-down, and what better way to do it than with a jigsaw of THAT iconic moment…?

And if all that’s not enough to quench your thirst for cricket you can opt to follow a simulation match, and check it out – England ‘won’ the first Test!

Maybe being in lockdown isn’t so bad after all.

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Gavin Sheehan aims to build on success

Gavin Sheehan is confident the horses that helped him enjoy a successful 2019/20 campaign can take another step forward next season and keep his career on an upward trajectory.

Although the 27-year-old fell four victories short of eclipsing his personal best total of 73 winners, a Cheltenham Festival success aboard Simply The Betts and Grade One triumph on Itchy Feet ensured he had plenty to smile about.

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