He retired from First-Class cricket in 2015 and has never played an ODI for England. He triumphed against an unfair fate that finished his dream of playing Tests and has been continuing to play the sport. All his hard work and persistence were paid off when he became the second highest paid player in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 auction.

Remember the name – Tymal Mills – the England pacer who is set to become a household face in India and other cricketing nations when the IPL 2017 kicks start from April 5. Although he has made an appearance in the T20 leagues in countries like Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan, one cannot deny the fact that IPL will give him the ultimate limelight.

With Mitchell Starc, withdrawing from IPL 2017, the T20 specialist bowler Mills is a sure shot member of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s playing XI.

Who is Mills?

The Yorkshire-born cricketer was any other boy from England who had dreamt of wearing the Navy Blue cap one fine day. His journey took off with flying colours. He made his First-Class debut with Essex in 2011 against the Sri Lankans. He went on to deliver good performances before he moved to Sussex in 2014. He bowled with an excellent economy of less than 4, bagging wickets consistently.

He was among the quickest bowlers in England, clocking almost 150Kmph. During the Ashes 2015, he was called over to bowl to the English batsmen in nets. He gave Alastair Cook and Graeme Swann a memory for a lifetime. Not being able to handle the pace, Cook and Swann were struck in their arms before they were taken to get a scan done. Mills was then called to Perth as a net bowler the following winter.

Just when an international call-up could happen anytime; his playing days were nothing but a fairy tale, he was struck with a horror incident that halted his life for a while.

The rare disease

A 22-year-old Mills was diagnosed with a congenital back condition. He would suffer irreversible mobility problems had he continued to bowl 20+ overs a day in Frist-Class cricket. Mills was the first-ever cricketer to suffer from that disease. Hence, the young man was forced to give up on his Test cricket dream as he prematurely retired from First-Class.

During such a situation, the word ‘retirement’ is likely to strike and Mills was no different. He sat down with everybody to have a serious discussion that ended with a conclusion that Mills would undergo serious tests instead of straight away retiring. And why not? He was just 22!

“I had a lot of different tests for a lot of things, including serious illnesses, but luckily they came back negative. After it was done, I googled a few things and thought, ‘Oh God, I’m going to die’ – but now I feel like I’ve been given a second chance,” Mills told mirror.co.uk.

The evolution of the ‘Freelancer’

Three days after discovering about the news, Mills was selected to play Gloucestershire in a T20 Blast match. There was no looking back from there for the cricketer, who was soon going to become a T20 specialist. The age and the fact that T20 was the only format he would play gave him an edge in the sport. Mills is also the youngest ever player to devote himself to T20 cricket.

However, like other cricketers, he had issues too. While the other players struggle to switch between the formats and perform well in all, Mills has to adjust with shifting countries frequently as per the fixtures of various T20 leagues.

Finance was the major concern for Mills, unlike other England cricketers. Although he plays T20I for England, he is without a central contract. He has been living a life of a freelancer. He has to go around the world, play in the T20 leagues to get paid well; there is no support from a cricket board to manage his workload. More importantly, if he misses a match due an injury, he will lose on the money because there is no paid leave in freelancing.

“I don’t earn very much playing in the UK for Sussex, because of only playing T20 cricket, so I have to go and play in these tournaments around the world in terms of getting paid really. If I get injured and don’t get to play in these tournaments obviously that affects me in a different way, so my security is a little bit less,” Mills explained in a recent interview.

Tymal Mills’ case can lead to a healthy debate if it is a good idea for a player to devote to a single format in cricket. He is surely a man of great spirits. His dream was to represent England and if it’s not Test cricket, he has made himself the best that England can have at present for the shortest format.

Let’s not forget the four words that we understand from Mills’life – NEVER EVER, EVER GIVE UP!

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