County news May 21, 2015

Mills may have to quit first-class cricket

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Tymal Mills could be forced to give up first-class cricket due to a back problem © Getty Images

Tymal Mills could be forced to retire from first-class cricket after being diagnosed with a congenital back condition.

Mills, who is thought to be the fastest bowler in English cricket, moved to Sussex from Essex over the winter and has been thought of as an England bowler of the near future. But, after breaking down in the early weeks of the season, he has been diagnosed as having a narrow spinal cord, which he has been warned could, in a worst case scenario, eventually cause substantial mobility problems if he continues to bowl.

For a man with so much natural talent, who had started to find the accuracy to complement his pace, it is crushing news.

"I have accepted that I might not have a future in first-class cricket," Mills told ESPNcricinfo. "It is absolutely gutting and I had a very difficult 48 hours when I first heard the news.

"I haven't completely given up on the dream of playing Test cricket but, realistically, it looks as if my future may be in the shorter formats. I still want to play 50-over and T20 cricket."

Sussex have already announced that Mills will play no first-class cricket for a couple of months, but specialists have advised that he will probably have to limit his bowling load significantly if he is to enjoy a prolonged career.

Mills bowled in Sussex's NatWest T20 Blast victory over Gloucestershire on Sunday and took three wickets - all bowled - and could feature in the side to play Somerset on Friday. He is travelling with the squad and hopes to shake off a minor ankle injury.

With that in mind, a career as a T20 specialist seems the most likely solution for a 22-year-old who, only weeks ago, was thought of as one of the most exciting prospects in England.

"I just hope nobody portrays me as a mercenary," Mills said. "This isn't a case of me not wanting to bowl; it's a case of me having a medical condition would could affect my future. It's all been pretty hard to take."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • anton1234 on May 22, 2015, 10:30 GMT

    I did read the article. I am saying fast bowling at express pace is hard work. It's almost literally back-breaking work and if you are not going to get the rewards then why put all the hard work in for little reward when you can earn a good living for as little work as possible (via T20s). Although pace is a huge asset because you can rip through a team lineup it can also be a liability if you are wayward. You do occasionally see medium pacers having some some success because they rely on batsmen making mistakes. I think the very fast bowlers are ones who can make things happen (with the extra pace) even on flat surfaces and Tymal would be someone England needed provided he was consistent, but since he is so injury prone he probably sees T20s as an easier route.

  • Balladeer on May 22, 2015, 8:51 GMT

    Anton - did you actually read the article, even a sentence of it, or just read the headline and jump to completely the wrong conclusion?

  • anton1234 on May 22, 2015, 8:07 GMT

    Looks like he's taken the easy route. Instead of putting the hard yards in, why not just bowl 4 overs a game with not much pressure (because even conceding 10 runs an over isn't necessarily so bad)? You can get away bowling badly in T20s and still earn a handsome living these days. Cricket can be a funny game in that sometimes even mediocre bowling can pick up bagful of wickets in a game because batsmen mistime shots or play tentatively. This is why sometimes medium pacers bowling under 80mph can sometimes take a string of wickets. However, during the course of a season you will be much more tested in the 4 day game than T20s and limited overs. Mills had the pace but did he have the talent? Extreme pace is a great asset but it can only take you so far. I fear he thought he was too one dimensional to have regular success.

    Bowling 90mph and more can put great strain on the body hence so many fast bowlers suffer injury with great deal of frequency.

  • dummy4fb on May 21, 2015, 20:27 GMT

    Having seen Mills along with Magoffin and the rest of the Sussex new ball attack getting stuck into the Hampshire batting line up on a sunny April evening at the Ageas Bowl recently was almost like watching a hostile Test standard attack in action. How sad to hear of this very unfortunate setback so soon afterwards. I wish him well with his efforts to keep his career going in any way that he can.

  • Roshan_P on May 21, 2015, 18:18 GMT

    This is such a shame. When a young bowler has bags of raw pace they are always a real exciting prospect, since accuracy is something they can develop over time with practice. With Mills' pace and left-arm slingy action he could have been a great player for the England Test team, but I at least look forward to seeing him being our spearhead bowler in ODIs and T20s.

  • BRUTALANALYST on May 21, 2015, 16:39 GMT

    Very unfortunate news I hope he can however do well in the shorter formats when I read the injury I though t it meant he was finished from all cricket. All the best to him this is another reason fast bowlers need to be looked after better even paid more as the career is far shorter and injury always around corner especially in this batsman dominated game difficult to encourage future fast bowlers.

  • ThatsGoodCricket on May 21, 2015, 12:30 GMT

    Really tough news. It's good that there at least appears to be a good chance of him having a career in the shorter form of the game, where he could still excel. It's very possible for a quick bowler to gain accuracy over time, the obvious example being James Anderson, who was a little wayward in the early part of his career. Lasith Malinga is another clear example of someone who's been forced by injury to lessen his workload but taken the opportunity to hone his limited-over game.

  • dummy4fb on May 21, 2015, 11:56 GMT

    poor bloke, hope he's alright

  • dummy4fb on May 21, 2015, 11:52 GMT

    Very sad for him. Been blighted by injury his whole career.

  • Balladeer on May 21, 2015, 11:51 GMT

    Agh, massive shame. Tymal has been a bit overhyped by the media, although it's not hard to see why: his natural raw pace and left arm slingy action have been offset by his accuracy, or lack thereof. But at 22, he had so much potential, and for it to be snatched away in this manner must be gutting. All the best to him.

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