England news December 12, 2013

Mills form can be spur to greater things

Charlie Talbot-Smith

Tymal Mills briefly found himself presented in the media as a potential England Test debutant at the Waca after proving that Mitchell Johnson is not the only left-armer in Perth capable of bowling with express pace.

Mills might not manage that but he can take satisfaction that his time in Australia, as part of the England Performance Programme that has been shadowing the Test side, has only enhanced his burgeoning reputation.

And the 21-year-old has not just been a net bowler in Australia, three wickets in his first eight deliveries against Western Australia 2nd XI this week prove that in Australia at least his threat has been translated out into wickets.

Alastair Cook's bruise on his right shoulder before the Ashes series was also courtesy of Mills' handiwork in the nets and a video of the Essex tyro sending Ian Bell's off stump cartwheeling backwards has also proved a hit on the internet.

It has been quite a hit for a bowler who only managed six championship wickets for Essex last season and was not sure of a place in the side.

Andy Flower, England's team director, summoned Mills to Australia ahead of the rest of the EPP programme to try a replicate the threat of Johnson in the nets and, even though it has not been markedly successful as England have slumped to 2-0 down, Mills has loved every minute of being involved.

"I've been all around the country and it's been great to be outside as opposed to just bowling in the nets over the winter. It's been a really good experience. They have not bowled me into the ground.

"I've been able to come in and out and I have had the chance to bowl in front of all the people that matter, to hang around with the England senior guys and hopefully give a good impression of myself.

"You have got to earn the right to get into the Test side. This was a great opportunity to showcase what I am all about, to put myself in the shop window as it were.

"It's been a pretty simple plan for me this winter really, consistency. I just have to keep working on bowling that full length so I can bring all three forms of dismissals into play. I have played a bit with my run-up as well and the change has gone well, the more I bowl the better I feel."

If Mills is to harbour realistic goals of breaking into the England Test side then his first focus will have to be with Essex. The left-armer only has 18 first class appearances to his name so far in his career and found himself left out of the four-day team for the majority of the 2013 County Championship.

And Mills admits that his thoughts are already on Chelmsford and hitting the ground running next campaign in a bid to build on the solid foundations laid this winter.

"At Essex I have been in and out of the side so the aim is to put in the hard work so that when pre-season comes around I am in the best possible position to challenge. Obviously we left-armers do offer something a bit different and England have not had that for a while but I know I have to get a couple of seasons of county cricket under my belt."

Follow the England Performance Programme squad and their progress this winter at www.ecb.co.uk/epp