Regularly clocking in excess of 90mph, Essex and England Lions fast bowler Tymal Mills is one of the most exciting young cricketers on the county circuit. He’ll be writing for AOC throughout the season and he starts by looking back at the first half of his winter, spent in Australia with the England set-up.
I’m delighted to have been asked by the fine people at All Out Cricket to give you an insight into life as a county cricketer during the summer months as we travel around the country earning our living. I’ll kick off by walking you through what has been an extremely busy but enjoyable first half of my winter just gone.
The initial plan was that I was to fly to Sydney at the start of October to spend the winter playing grade cricket for a side out there, but days before I was due to fly I received a phone call notifying me that I had been selected as part of the England Performance Programme. It was of course a nice surprise but left me with literally nothing to do for month!
I then received an e-mail from [ECB performance director] David Parsons on a Thursday night in late October whilst I was at the cinema with Ben Foakes saying that Andy Flower has requested Nottinghamshire left-armer Harry Gurney and myself fly out to Perth on the coming Sunday! I was in the process of moving out of my flat in Chelmsford at the time so it’s safe to say it was a hectic couple of days…
I’d never met Harry until we met at Heathrow departures and we got along straight away, which was lucky as we were to be rooming together for the next month. This was also my first trip to Australia so I had plenty to look forward to as we boarded the plane.
From day one we were greeted extremely warmly by the coaching staff and players alike and were treated as if we were part of the main touring party, which settled any nerves that Harry and I had. As we started to get into our bowling we weren’t given any specific parameters, we were there to make sure that the England boys had a constant supply of quality (we hoped!) left-arm pace bowling ahead of the Ashes series. I saw it as a great opportunity to express myself and show what I was capable of in front of all of the people that mattered in English cricket. It was also a good chance for them to see what we were like as guys away from the cricket – how we socialised and fitted into the group around the dressing room.
We got to travel across Australia, visiting Perth, Hobart, Sydney and then onto Brisbane where you could feel the atmosphere and media buzz ahead of the first Test match. Harry and I thoroughly enjoyed our month with the team and we received some nice words and positive feedback from the England players and staff.
I then joined up with the Performance Programme, who were also in Brisbane, and then moved on to Perth. I was really looking forward to the matches that were scheduled after a month spent solidly in the nets and, after taking four wickets in the first fixture at Brisbane, I bowled particularly well in the second of our three-day matches, at Perth, taking three second-innings wickets including a spell of three for one at one stage.
On the back of those performances there was some talk in the press that I was going to make my debut in the Ashes but that was never realistically going to happen – I know as well as anyone that if fellow left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson hadn’t done as well as he did then people would have not have been calling for my inclusion.
I left Australia in the middle of December with a lot of overs under my belt, some good work done in the nets and a few bruises delivered to some batsmen, which is always nice!
I’ll save what has happened post-Christmas, including the England Lions tour to Sri Lanka, until next time.