Bangladesh experience has brought back Middlesex man’s confidence
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
To describe Dawid Malan’s form with the bat last season as a baffling conundrum would certainly be something of an understatement.
The left-hander’s performances were virtually flawless in limited-overs cricket, where he opened the batting and scored more runs than any other Middlesex player in both the t20 and YB40 competitions.
And yet Malan’s County Championship fortunes were the polar opposite – he struggled throughout the season, averaging a miserable 21.5 and was left out of the side on more than one occasion.
However, the 26-year-old feels reinvigorated by his spell in Bangladesh with Prime Doleshwar during the winter and is optimistic that fans of four-day cricket will see a different side to him this season.
“You always doubt yourself to some extent and I took a break after last season, just to clear my mind and get away from things,” said Malan.
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“But I spent five weeks in Bangladesh, which went really well and that gave me the confidence I lacked towards the end of last year and the self-belief that I can still play.
“If you haven’t got confidence and self-belief, it’s not going to happen in the middle. I’ve gone away and worked on a lot of things that I needed to work on.
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“I think over the last two or three years I’ve put my four-day cricket a little bit behind the one-day stuff, because I focused more attention on that and didn’t put in as many hours as I should have done on my four-day game plan and strategy.
“That let me down last year, to be honest – it just didn’t click. I didn’t play well and I couldn’t get that momentum, which was frustrating.
“But now I feel I’ve got the confidence I need and hopefully last year is the only one I have that’s a stinker in four-day cricket.”
Malan, who originally burst onto the scene with a memorable century against Lancashire during Middlesex’s successful Twenty20 Cup campaign of 2008, has generally filled the no 4 slot in the County Championship.
But he briefly moved up to open when skipper Chris Rogers was away on Ashes duty last summer and batted at three in Middlesex’s first game of the new season, against Sussex at Hove.
Malan emerged with more credit than most of his colleagues, scoring 35 and 36 as Middlesex were bowled out cheaply twice and lost by an innings and 127 runs.
And, with Rogers earning a Cricket Australia central contract and opening partner Sam Robson tipped for an England call-up in the near future, Malan is well aware of the responsibility that may rest on the shoulders of Middlesex’s other senior batsmen this summer.
As well as Malan, those ranks include the likes of Joe Denly, who also endured a lean year with the bat, and former captain Neil Dexter.
“We’ve relied on Buck [Rogers] a lot and then someone in that middle order to put his hand up,” said Malan. “There was always someone, but we weren’t consistent enough.
“I think that’s been our downfall. Teams that are successful have three or four batsmen scoring consistent runs, whereas we’ve only have two and last year that was Buck and Robbo.
“I don’t think it’s helped only playing five specialist batsmen for the last few years.
“We’ve got four of the best seam bowlers in the country – we just need the runs on the board. Someone in the middle order needs to put his hand up and hopefully that’ll be me.”
Middlesex begin their first home game of the season on Sunday when they face Nottinghamshire in the County Championship at Lord’s.