Dawid Malan dropped by England but set for talks with Rob Key


It speaks of the crossroads at which Dawid Malan finds himself that he will start the 2024 season moonlighting as a batting coach for Yorkshire.

Even with the T20 World Cup two months away, Malan, the ICC’s No.11-ranked T20I batter – Phil Salt (second) and Jos Buttler (ninth) are the only Englishmen sitting higher – seems unlikely to make the squad for the 2022 title defence. Despite being halfway through his year-long ECB central contract, he is already looking at what comes after.

Malan will turn 37 in September and announced during the 50-over World Cup in November that he would be parking first-class cricket to prolong his white-ball career, which includes the T20 Blast this summer. Though he was left out of the white-ball tour of the Caribbean at the end of last year, stints at the SA20 and PSL kept him busy.

He returned from Pakistan two weeks ago and, at present, has no plans to hit balls again until the start of May. In the meantime, Yorkshire batters now have an extra sounding board at Headingley, with over 100 caps and centuries in all three international formats. For Malan, it will show him whether coaching is an avenue he would like to pursue once he decides to call it a day.

“It’s quite exciting,” said Malan. “I’m going to do a bit of coaching in my off time and help the boys out two or three days a week. I’ll work with the firsts and seconds, whoever is around. I’ll see if I can share some of my knowledge, if anyone wants it, and if it’s something I enjoy for after cricket.

“I still feel I’ve got two or three years of playing if things go well and I can still perform, but I want to give back as much as I can now. It’s exciting to be back and give myself a different kind of challenge for this time of year than I usually have.

“It’s an unofficial capacity. Whoever is at home, be it first team or second team, I’ll throw some balls and speak to whoever wants to speak to me about batting without treading on any of the coaches’ toes.”

Malan pitched the ad hoc role to head coach Ottis Gibson last week, who was surprised. Gibson was in for a further shock on Wednesday when Malan also revealed he could U-turn on his first-class retirement this summer if “that itch” comes back, or his summer is limited to just the Blast and the Hundred, in which he was picked up by defending champions Oval Invincibles in last month’s draft after his release by Trent Rockets.

“At first I was a little bit surprised because I was thinking: ‘Is he thinking retirement already?'” Gibson said on the initial conversation, before adding: “And then you tell me that he wants to play red-ball cricket, so I’m like, ‘Wow, where is he going with this?'”

Nevertheless, Gibson would welcome Malan back into the Championship fold. He has only played 17 first-class matches for Yorkshire since moving north from Middlesex in 2020, but boasts an impressive average of 55.93 from 1,622 runs, with five centuries. Anything resembling that output will go far in helping a young squad surer of their footing – and no longer weighed down by a 48-point deduction – in their push to return to Division One. Ultimately, the caveat to all the above is Malan’s schedule.

At this juncture, international commitments look unlikely. Despite top-scoring for England at the 50-over World Cup with 404 runs at 44.88, Malan was left out of Matthew Mott and Jos Buttler’s squads for the Caribbean. Other high-profile batters missed out to preserve them for the Test tour of India at the start of 2024. Malan’s absence, however, felt like moving on outright.

Ben Stokes’ decision to pull out of contention for the World Cup could yet open the door for a recall, with Malan fulfilling a similar role as a left-handed anchor. But Rob Key pointed to his recent output in T20Is when explaining his omission from the squads that faced West Indies and his form was middling over the winter.

“I’d like to be,” Malan said, when asked if he was in consideration to defend the T20 title he contributed to two years ago. “I wouldn’t say performance would have anything to do with it. In 2023, I had a pretty good year in 50-over cricket and I wouldn’t say I’m old, considering Jimmy [Anderson] is 42 or something like that! I can’t see it being an age thing, and there’s a tournament in a few months’ time.

“Obviously I know they might want to go in a different direction. That’s absolutely fine. They’re entitled to do whatever they need to do that they think is the best way to move English cricket in the right direction. I still feel I’m good enough and young enough to do it. That’s out of my control, selection-wise.”

Malan was coy about why his time might be up as an international cricketer. He had a conversation with the management following the conclusion of England’s dire ODI campaign in India, but was unwilling to divulge what exactly was said. A meeting with Key in the next fortnight will give him clarity on where his future lies.

“I have no idea what they are thinking at the moment,” he said. “We have got appraisals in 12 or 14 days so I’ll probably find out a bit more then. I will just take it as it comes. I am not looking too far ahead or wanting something that might not be there.

“If it is, it is; if it isn’t, it isn’t. I have made peace with that. I have a different path that I am looking at at the moment in terms of the last two or three years in my career and if things pop up, they pop up. And if they don’t, they don’t. It’ll be interesting to see where things are and, yeah, it’ll be good to have a good chat with Keysy.”

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo


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