Malan needs to buck up…..
Dawid Malan was one of the few shining lights in England’s awful Ashes campaign Down Under. The southpaw scored some tough runs and made a name for him in this English line-up. However, the same confidence and panache have gone for a toss in the recent times. In last seven Test innings, Malan has scored just one fifty and had a terrible time at Lord’s against Pakistan. Malan needs to rediscover his lost mojo at the earliest and make amends.
England lost the opening encounter by a whopping margin of nine wickets and will be desperate to bounce back and square the two-match series at Headingley. Their batting has looked bereft of oomph in the recent times and failed to inspire confidence. The fact that they crumbled for 184 and 242 in first and second innings in home conditions is staggering. Their batting needs to step up and put runs on the board for their bowlers to battle for.
Malan made a solid entry in international cricket by smashing the South African bowlers all over the Cardiff park in a T20I game in 2017. He couldn’t replicate his magic in the longest format against South Africa and West Indies, where he averaged 23.82 in five Tests along with two half-centuries. English selectors showed immense faith in his abilities and awarded him an Ashes berth, which Malan justified.
Malan kick-started his Ashes campaign with a tenacious fifty at Brisbane, but failed to fire in next three innings. He stuck to his guns and came out fighting at Perth, scoring the first ton from his side in the series. He also got a determined fifty in the second innings. Overall, Malan was the fourth-highest run-scorer in the series and highest for England. He had 383 runs in his basket at a healthy average of 42.55, including one century and three fifties. He batted with some confidence when the chips were down for England and showed maturity in constructing an innings.
Malan raised hopes and cemented his spot in the English middle-order, he justified his selection and it was now time for him to prove himself in New Zealand. New Zealand was always going to a tough nut to crack for England, and it didn’t turn out to be any surprise. They lost the two-match series 1-0 and Malan did struggle. In four innings, Malan only managed 78 runs including a fifty. Till then, England had lost five out of seven games including two draws. They had a lot of hopes pinned on the series against Pakistan and intended to end their losing streak, but the Lord’s encounter gave them a reality check.
If truth be told, England’s batting does look a little unsteady. Their openers have failed to fire while middle-order has not stabilised. It’s not for the lack of talent or potential, it’s just that they haven’t clicked as a unit so far. National selector Ed Smith was brutal in his selection for the second game when he drafted Keaton Jennings and dropped an out of form Mark Stoneman from the 12-man squad. England does have a mountain to climb at Headinlgey and it will be interesting to see if they manage to make a comeback and save the series.
Malan was in good form for Surrey, where he scored a century and a determined fifty in his last three games. But his run in the Test arena has rather been ordinary. In last six innings, Malan has garnered just 96 runs at a paltry average of 16. He has looked tentative and needs to rediscover his lost mojo. One wouldn’t be wrong in saying that time is running out on him. He needs to make the most of his chances and do the run-scoring.
England need to strengthen their middle-order a bit. In 2017 season, English middle-order averaged 41.10 in seven games, but the average has witnessed a constant decline. In 2017/18, the average dipped to 32.90 in seven games while in 2018 season England have only played one game, it further reduced to 21.62.
Root’s elevation to three has further made the middle-order little weak and to counter-attack this, Jonny Bairstow has been promoted in the order. Malan at 4 has a golden chance to make his presence unavoidable for the future by pulling his socks up and scoring crucial runs. The going is getting tough for him; will he show character and rise? He has done it in the past and should bounce back emphatically before it is too late. Whether it was just a failure or England need some serious assessment will be clear after the second Test at Headingley.