Can Suffolk bowler Tymal Mills light up the Ashes darkness for England?
- Credit: PA
Ashes defeat may have left England cricket fans feeling gloomy, but Brandon's Tymal Mills is hoping to illuminate the future for his country.
Pace bowler Mills has been called up to a 15-man England Lions squad for a tour of Sri Lanka in February and March.
Mills, who plays his cricket for Essex, will face Sri Lanka A alongside players who have represented England at senior level including Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes.
The 21-year-old has been in Australia with the senior team, who have tried to use his raw pace – clocked at 94mph last summer – to replicate the danger of Mitchell Johnson in the nets.
Mills even left skipper Alastair Cook with a peach of a bruise on his right shoulder during his time Down Under as part of the England Performance Programme.
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He has not just been a net bowler in Australia either, with three wickets in his first eight deliveries against Western Australia 2nd XI last week.
'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,' Mills said.
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'It's been a really good experience, they have not bowled me into the ground, I've been able to come in and out. I have had the chance to bowl in front of all the people that matter.
'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.'
The left-armer only has 18 first class appearances for Essex to his name so far and found himself left out of the four-day team for the majority of the 2013 County Championship, as Essex went with more experienced players during their push for promotion.
Mills admits that his thoughts are already on changing that, adding: 'This winter 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.
'With Reece [Topley] and David [Willey] here as well it is clear that England are keeping an eye on left-armers.
'Obviously we 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.
'Mitchell Johnson has obviously been a huge success this summer.
'I would not say he is an influence on me, everyone goes about their business in their own way.
'So he is not someone I am trying to emulate in that sense, but of course to have the sort of success he is having at the moment would be great.'
- Follow the England Performance Programme squad and their progress this winter at www.ecb.co.uk/epp