Tymal Mills confident he can impress for England during T20s in India
- Credit: PA
Tymal Mills is one of England's most exciting bowlers, and arguably the fastest on the circuit, but he cannot risk his physical or financial health by playing anything longer than Twenty20 cricket
The 24-year-old, who has joined up with England ahead of the three-match series in India, has long been known for his explosive pace and caused an Ashes injury scare in 2013 when he rapped Graeme Swann on the forearm in a warm-up match.
But former Mildenhall Cricket Club star Mills, from Brandon, will never play in an Ashes series himself due to a congenital back condition which means his vertebrae and spinal chord are too close together and flare up when over-exerted.
Aged just 22 it forced him to ponder retirement but he settled for a different compromise: focusing on short, sharp blasts in T20 cricket and removing the more demanding formats from his schedule completely.
Mills' life now is that of a roving freelance, taking in the domestic competitions of Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India – if he is picked up at next month's IPL auction.
Much as fans would like to see him toppling stumps at 93mph – like he did to Chris Gayle in a televised match for Sussex last summer – in longer matches, he sees it as too much of a gamble.
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'I've spent a lot of time being injured and it's not much fun so I don't want to put myself at risk,' he said after reminding team-mates of his speed in a lively net session in Kanpur.
'I want to keep healthy, keep enjoying my own cricket. I'm having a great time travelling around, seeing the world, playing in different competitions and playing well.
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'I don't want to jeopardise that at the moment. I'm only 24, so down the line you don't know what could happen, but in the immediate future I'm only looking to play T20s if I'm honest.
'Everything I do is geared towards being the best T20 player I can be. I haven't bowled with a red ball for two years. I literally only bowl with the white Kookaburra.
'One thing I've learned with the injuries I've had and the limitations that I have with my cricket is I've got to train smart, and I've got to play smart. I've got a limited amount of balls that I can bowl so I can't waste any.'
Mills, who won his only previous international cap against Sri Lanka last July, is admirably open about his financial circumstances as well as his physical condition.
Nobody is going to get rich playing a single format in county cricket so he has to market his skills and take them wherever the contracts come from - be it a two-match Big Bash stint for Brisbane Heat this month or a less glamorous assignment with Chittagong Vikings in the Bangladesh Premier League.
'Financially, I don't earn very much playing in the UK for Sussex, because of only playing T20 cricket, so I have go and play in these tournaments around the world in terms of getting paid,' he said.
'This is my job now. If I get injured and don't get to play in these tournaments obviously that affects me in a different way, so my security is a little bit less.
'I'm really grateful that I can still play, still travel, still experience great things which is why I don't want to risk putting myself at harm again by playing a big block of 50-over cricket.
'The ramifications for me could be quite serious.'
Mills' unique situation means he will be available for the entirety of the IPL, while some of his centrally-contracted colleagues will be limited to shorter windows. It remains the premier domestic cup in the market and Mills is keen to catch the eye in Kanpur, Nagpur and Bangalore over the next week.
'I'm in the auction for the IPL so hopefully this series will go well and I'll get picked up.' he said.
'At the end of the day if I bowl well, it's good for myself, for England and for my future. I'm in a very unique situation now where I can hopefully do this for a long time and hopefully I'll get picked up.'
• Tymal Mills
• Born: August 12, 1992, Dewsbury, Yorkshire
• Age: 24
• Major teams: England T20, England Lions, England under-19s, Essex, Sussex, Suffolk
• Batting style: Right hand
• Bowling style: Left-arm fast
• Average bowling speed: More than 90mph, one of the fastest in the world