Tymal Mills flies to South Africa for England Performance Programme fast bowling camp
The battle to keep international hopes alive kicks up a gear for Brandon fast bowler Tymal Mills today – as he jets out to South Africa.
Mills has endured a tough year which has forced him to stop playing the longer formats of cricket due to a back problem.
However, the 23-year-old has put that pain behind him with success in Twenty20 games, to be one of five players selected for an England Performance Programme (EPP) fast bowling camp.
The former Mildenhall College pupil – who can bowl at speeds in excess of 90mph – now has his eyes on trying to force his way into England’s senior squad for the ICC World Twenty20 competition in India next year.
“When I first moved down to Sussex I’d had a great winter and the guys were brilliant with me there,” Mills explained.
“I was starting in the Championship team and then, bang, the injury happened again, just like it did at Essex last year.
“I was out of the games and had to have a lot of different tests and then we had a big meeting and we mentioned all my different options – including retiring. So it was a very testing time for me for three or four days, but I was never taking that option.”
The former Breckland Middle School pupil rose to prominence two years ago when he terrorised England’s stars in a warm-up match ahead of the Ashes in Australia.
He took the wicket of England captain Alastair Cook and his speeds of 90mph caused an injury scare when Graham Swann was struck by one of his deliveries.
Mills was chosen to shadow England during the Ashes and help them prepare for the left-arm pace of Mitchell Johnson. From there a series against Pakistan with England Lions and a frustrating season with Essex in 2014 followed, leading to a fresh start in the County Championship this year, with Sussex.
His time on the south coast started brightly but a persistent back problem saw Mills stop playing the longer formats of the game.
“To say it’s been an up and down season is a bit of an understatement,” the former Suffolk bowler reflected, as he prepared to fly out to South Africa today to try and rekindle his England hopes at a specialist bowling camp.
“From where the season started and potentially having to pack it all in, to coming back and performing well in the T20s and get this recognition, really is pleasing.”
That recognition has seen Mills chosen as part of a five-man squad which will be based in Potchefstroom for the EPP fast bowling camp until November 23.
An EPP batting and spin bowling camp is also being held in Dubai until December 1, with the fast bowlers joining that group for the final week. An England Lions series against Pakistan A, of five Twenty20 matches, then follows in Dubai.
“My back doesn’t give me problems day to day, it’s the more overs I bowl that the problems start to flare up,” Mills continued.
“All my training is specific to me and they’re looking after me really well, so hopefully I’m in a really good place for the T20 series against Pakistan and then we’ll reassess as to whether I take part in the one-dayers after Christmas.”
Preparations for the camp began at Loughbourgh University last week, with Mills focusing on the T20 matches before worrying about if he can be involved in the Lions’ one-day series against Pakistan A, also in Dubai, in January.
The Lions programme is designed to put pressure on England’s senior players ahead of the ICC World T20, which starts in India in March – giving Mills a huge incentive.
“It’s definitely the aim but at the moment it’s all down to staying out on the park,” he said of that World T20 prospect. “I understand that the rest of my career is going to be about stringing games together and playing in a tournament, if that happens, it would be fantastic.
“It’s the carrot on the end of the stick but the immediate thing in front of my face is my body, trying to stay out on the park, and if I do that I think the rest will take care of itself.”