Dawid Malan column: Place in T20 World Cup squad far from secure
"I have picked little things up from watching Ben Stokes doing range hitting in training and seeing how I can adapt that to my game. I always want to learn"
Last Updated: 12/02/20 4:59pm
Dawid Malan's T20I average is stellar - but he says a place in England's T20 World Cup squad this autumn is far from certain...
I said in this column last week that I couldn't really have done much more in my T20 chances so far than average over 57 and have a strike rate over 150.
But you know that when you come in for rested players that you shouldn't just expect to play next time around as the guys you have stepped in for have done nothing wrong.
DAWID MALAN'S T20I RECORD
- Matches: 9
- Runs: 458
- Hundreds: 1
- Fifties: 5
- Average: 57.25
- Strike rate: 156.31
Those players deserve to come back in - you don't want a scenario where they fear being rested.
There has been a lot of talk about T20 now being England's white-ball priority as we head towards the World Cup at the end of the year and that they are going to play their best team going forward.
The fact I am in this squad and competing for a place is nice but there are nine T20s between now and that World Cup so there is plenty of time for things to change.
It's probably a bit early for me to think I am going to be part of it, so I just need to take every opportunity to keep my name in the hat.
Hitting the accelerator
I am obviously happy with what I have done in my nine games so far and I think I would say a large part of what I have achieved is down to mindset.
Before England played this brand of white-ball cricket it was almost acceptable to get 150 or 160 as a team, you would generally win the game with that sort of score, even if it was close.
But now 180, 190, 200 are normal and where there used to be times where you would take your foot off the accelerator, now you need to keep your foot down. Keep looking to score. Turn what could be a 10-run over, into an 18, 19-run over.
I have enjoyed that challenge, while I have also expanded my game with different shots. It doesn't matter how old you are, you still want, and still need, to improve.
I have picked little things up from watching Ben Stokes, who is back for this series, doing range hitting in training and seeing how I can adapt that to my game. I always want to learn.
If I do play against South Africa, I would be happy to bat anywhere, it just depends on what places are available.
Jos Buttler has moved up to opening the batting and has been unbelievable for England and in the IPL doing that so I can't see that changing.
I know that if they go for the same top three or four that they have been going with for the last 18 months or so then I can't expect to play and I will understand that.
It's just the way it is. You always want to be playing but other players getting picked ahead of you is the nature of international sport, as it was for me in the one-dayers.
Best era ever
We gave young players opportunities in the ODI series, with Tom Banton, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson making their debuts. I think they will have learned a hell of a lot.
That will mainly be about the expectation that comes with being an international player. I haven't played a great deal of international cricket but being around it for short periods, I know that dealing with that pressure is the hardest part.
What's great about this England environment is that you are encouraged to be yourself. You are pushed to play your way and play with freedom and I'm sure the new guys relished that.
Obviously the first ODI didn't go our way with South Africa winning by a big margin but there was no big debrief about it in our dressing room afterwards - just an honest view of how we were below the standards we want to set and how we wanted to improve as the series went on.
We did that and got a series draw which means we have not lost a bilateral ODI series since 2017.
This is without doubt the best white-ball era England have ever had. Every single base is covered and there are players pushing from behind, which is really exciting. There are around 20 players competing for places and that's what drives this team on.
DRS and Dale
There was some confusion with DRS on Sunday with South Africa getting their review back and Rassie van der Dussen then getting reprieved - and I have to say we had no idea what was going on!
The fourth umpire came and spoke to us afterwards to explain and there was a little confrontation about it because we were all a little confused, but as long as the guys on the field, mainly Eoin Morgan, knew what was happening, they could accept the decision.
South Africa were a real Test in the ODI series and we know they will be in the T20s as well, especially with Dale Steyn back in their ranks.
I played with him in the Mzansi Super League for Cape Town Blitz and he is a really nice guy. He is a legend of the game with an unbelievable record, but he remains a calm, relaxed person.
AB de Villiers is the same. Having played with him at Middlesex last year, I can say he is one of the best blokes I have ever met in cricket, on and off the field.
I know there have been rumours that he could play in the T20 World Cup and if he did, then both him and Dale will be looking to create some happy World Cup memories before they eventually retire from the game. They have been great servants for South Africa and cricket in general.
AB is not back yet but we know South Africa will be competitive and it will be a really well-contested T20 series. Hopefully we come out on the winning side.
Watch the first T20I between South Africa and England, at Buffalo Park in East London, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 3.30pm on Wednesday.