Matches (14)
BBL 2023 (2)
NZ v PAK [W] (1)
SA v IND [ A ] (1)
Hazare Trophy (4)
Asia Cup [U19] (4)
WI v ENG (1)
SA v IND (1)

How should England replace Dawid Malan: Phil Salt, Chris Jordan or someone else?

Adelaide Oval dimensions may prompt a re-think after four consecutive unchanged XIs

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
Who should replace Dawid Malan in the England XI?  •  Getty Images

Who should replace Dawid Malan in the England XI?  •  Getty Images

Dawid Malan, England's highest-ranked T20I batter, is a probable absentee from their semi-final against India at Adelaide on Thursday, after sustaining a groin injury while fielding against Sri Lanka last week. His returns in the tournament to date have been below his usual standards - an average of 28.00 and a strike-rate of 82.35 - but his absence still offers England a conundrum after they used only 11 players in the Super 12s stage. Here are five contenders to replace him.
Phil Salt
Not exactly a like-for-like replacement, given their differing batting styles, but Salt's inclusion would seem to play to England's perceived strength, by loading their line-up with another run-making option, and trusting the collective to keep coming from first ball to last. And yet, that hasn't quite happened in the tournament so far. Aside from his agenda-setting 73 against New Zealand, Jos Buttler at the top of the order has been reticent by his usual standards, striking at 132 across his four innings, his lowest rate in a series of more than two matches since 2018.
And with Harry Brook off-colour compared to his breakthrough series in Pakistan, the rest of England's line-up has struggled to click - not least the combination of Malan and Ben Stokes at No. 3 and 4, both of whom tend to prefer a few sighters before they find their full strokemaking range. Salt, however, doesn't operate quite like that. He is cut more from the Jason Roy cloth, with a welcome willingness to give it a wallop from ball one.
That can make his returns somewhat hit or miss, but interspersed with four scores of ten or less in Pakistan was his rollicking 88 not out from 41 balls to turn the series in Lahore. His unfettered presence at No. 4 or below could help to clarify Stokes' role at No. 3, and allow him to build into his innings as he did in his crucial marshalling of a nervy chase against Sri Lanka. Buttler was full of praise for Salt on Wednesday, saying: "He has a fantastic mindset, especially for the T20 format. He embodies quite a lot of what we speak about as a team and how we ask guys to play."
Chris Jordan
In the gunslinging world of death bowling, Jordan was all too easy to blame for England's exit at this stage in the 2021 tournament. His third and final over was dispatched for 23 runs by Jimmy Neesham to give New Zealand crucial impetus just as their chase was getting steep. This time around, his role has been restricted to that of a super-sub, with three ice-cool catches at long-on in the past two games, but there's a strong case for his inclusion to offer an eighth bowling option in Adelaide, given that Malan - albeit for different reasons - had been carded to come in at No. 8 or below in each of England's last two games, suggesting that an extra batter is arguably an even more under-utilised resource.
Jordan lost his incremental England contract last month, which rather implies that this tournament could be his last hurrah. But his immense experience could still have a part to play, just as it seemed to have done in the World T20 final in 2016, when his final 12 deliveries went for a mere 15 runs. But for Carlos Brathwaite, that display could have been his defining moment.
A finger injury has held Jordan back recently - he went for 13 an over in his comeback T20I against Australia last month - but last summer he showcased a willingness to adapt his repertoire to suit his surroundings, not least in the series against India, when he utilised a hit-the-pitch method to suit the wide acreage of the Ageas Bowl, before bringing his favoured yorker out of mothballs in the more cramped confines of Trent Bridge. That tactic had mixed success, particularly with Suryakumar Yadav in his sights, but with similarly short square boundaries at Adelaide, and on a used deck that may offer up reverse swing, having a man who still trusts that method may not be a bad option for England.
Tymal Mills
Mills offers the opposite approach, in almost every sense. His left-arm line echoes that of the absent Reece Topley, whose ankle injury ruled him out before a ball of the tournament was bowled, while the yorker barely features in his repertoire - instead he prefers a diet of into-the-pitch offerings, mixing up the pace to confound his opponents' ambitions, and always keeping the threat of a genuine 90mph/145kph bouncer up his sleeve.
When it works, he is startlingly effective - Mills remains among the most economical death bowlers in T20 history - and last year, despite not having played a T20I since 2018, he was a shoo-in for Eoin Morgan's T20 World Cup squad in the UAE, almost from the moment it was confirmed that the luckless Jofra Archer had sustained a stress fracture of the back. Seven wickets in his first three matches suggested Mills was on course to make up for lost time, but then his thigh popped after nine balls against Sri Lanka, and that was the end of his tournament.
A lack of recent game-time might dissuade England from taking a gamble on a Mills recall: after struggling with a toe injury in the summer, he has played just two competitive matches since June, and none since the end of his Hundred campaign in August. But concerns over Mark Wood's fitness - he has hardly bowled in training since England arrived in Adelaide - could see him come in as the quickest bowler in the attack.
David Willey
Another man with unfinished business on the game's biggest stages. Willey would have been a Player-of-the-Match contender had the 2016 final gone England's way - in addition to his outstanding figures of 3 for 20, he also thumped two of his team's five sixes to give a timely late flourish to an otherwise nervy innings. In fact, his ratio of one six from every 13 balls he's faced in T20Is is higher than anyone in England's ranks bar Moeen Ali, which makes him a handy option to have lurking for the death.
But it's his penetrative left-arm swing that would earn him his call-up, and maybe even complete his England rebirth after the cruel circumstances of the 2019 World Cup, when he was axed on the eve of the competition to accommodate Archer. No England bowler has claimed more wickets in the powerplay in T20Is - that period accounts for 31 of his 51 wickets, and at an economy-rate of 7.32 that stands up to scrutiny.
And while that record might previously have hinted at a lack of versatility, England's depth of bowling options means that his less formidable death-overs record (13 wickets at an economy of 10.09) need not be a reason to discount him. India's top order have been vulnerable against left-arm seam early on, and the dimensions in Adelaide should allow him to pitch the ball up if selected.
Liam Dawson
If England are intent on maxing out their bowling options, then how about heading into ultimate match-up territory? Liam Dawson's international career has been one of the great modern curiosities. A World Cup winner in 2019, despite playing the last of his three ODIs in October 2018; an allrounder whose Test career spanned just three matches, but still outlasted the man who greeted him on debut with an unbeaten triple century. And now, a potential World Cup semi-finalist after a grand total of one international wicket in the past four years.
Dawson is in Australia but is not in the squad, and England are very unlikely to call him up as a replacement unless Malan's injury has worsened to the extent that he would be unavailable for a potential final on Sunday. But there would be some logic to bringing him in as an emergency option: if he is to get the call-up, it may simply be as a man-marker for the formidable Suryakumar - a batter whose 225 runs from 116 balls have featured some of the most startling shots ever witnessed at a World Cup, not least his tumbledown whip for six against Zimbabwe last week.
He is a man seemingly without weakness, and yet, against left-arm spin in the past four years, his returns are merely good rather than world-beating - an average of 32 and a strike rate of 126, compared to 155+ against all other bowling types. Even if Dawson bowls just one over for eight while Suryakumar is swinging for the hills, that could prove crucial to England's hopes.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket