Mills thrilled by prospect of Lions tour

Brandon pace prospect Tymal Mills has enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks in 2011 – and he is relishing the prospect of touring with England Lions this winter.

Left arm paceman Mills, 19, earned his call-up after just four first class games for Essex this summer. He was named in the England Performance Programme squad in October and impressed enough to secure a place in the 16-man Lions squad for the three-week tour of Bangladesh.

'The last 12 months have been pretty remarkable how quickly things have happened,' said Mills. 'But I've got to try and keep a level head and take things as they come.'

The Lions play five one-day matches and two Twenty20 games against Bangladesh A in January and Mills added: 'It'll be good just to get some more experience of one-day cricket, to go out there and enjoy it and give it my all.

'I've had some experience of playing in the sub continent when I went to Sri Lanka in January with England Under-19s and although it didn't go brilliantly (both Tests were drawn) it was still a good experience.'

Born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, Mills' family moved to Brandon when he was two, although he did not start playing cricket until he was 14. He initially played for Tuddenham, before moving on to Mildenhall, where he played 13 matches last summer in the Two Counties Championship.

Mildenhall narrowly lost out to Copdock & Old Ipswichian in the title race – and the Ipswich side subsequently won a play-off, including a victory over Fakenham, to take their place in the East Anglian Premier League next summer. They will present a new challenge to the Norfolk contingent of Swardeston, Vauxhall Mallards, Horsford and Great Witchingham and Mills believes the Suffolk side will be competitive at the higher level: 'I played both games against Copdock in the last couple of seasons and I know some of their lads from playing in the county age groups with them,' he said. 'I haven't played in the EAPL myself so it's hard to say how they'll get on, but they've got a good young squad so I think they'll be okay, maybe with the addition of a couple of bowlers.'

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Mills' availability for club cricket next year is likely to be restricted if his progression continues and he has also put his sports journalism studies at the University of East London on hold to focus on a career in cricket.

He was rewarded with his first professional contract at Essex in September, after making his debut against the touring Sri Lanka side in June, when Test opener Tharanga Paranavitana became his maiden first class victim.

Mills added: 'Essex have always said to me this year that if I performed well in the second team I'd get a chance and that's what happened.

'I was a bit nervous at first but I settled in well and it was good to get that first wicket under my belt. Sri Lanka put out a pretty strong side and it was a good challenge to bowl against the likes of Kumar Sangakkara.'

After the tour of Bangladesh, the Lions will select a squad to travel to face Sri Lanka A before a match against the full England side in Abu Dhabi in February.

'I'll find out halfway through the tour if I have been selected for the second half of the winter,' said Mills. 'Hopefully I'll make that and then it's back to pre-season with Essex. My main aim is to become a regular in the Essex side, but there are more England Lions matches in the summer against the West Indies and Australia A, so hopefully I can put myself in the shop window for those as well.'