England captain Eoin Morgan has given full backing to T20I No.3 Dawid Malan, hailing him as “incredible” despite the 33-year-old coming in for criticism from some sections of the media.
Malan is currently the No.1 ranked T20I batsman in the world, and of all England batsmen with more than 200 runs, he has the best average and the best strike-rate in T20I cricket.
However, his preferred method, which sees him regularly start slowly before accelerating, the discrepancy between his international and domestic T20 records, England’s plethora of top-order options, and his relative lack of experience in the subcontinent have meant his position has come under scrutiny ahead of this winter’s T20 World Cup in India.
“I’d move [Stokes] up the order,” Pietersen said on the Sky Cricket Show. “I’d bat him at four. Bairstow is an opening batsman in the one-day game as we’ve seen, bats right at the top of the order, and having watched the display that he put on in Pune the other night in the one-dayer, it got me to a decision that for a T20 World Cup in India, I believe that he should be batting at three, Stokes should be batting at four.
“Malan is a touch and feel player. He plays the short ball well. But when he’s got to go after the spinners, and when the pace is slowed down in the middle overs in the subcontinent, it’s difficult to bat, it’s difficult to continue hitting those boundaries, it’s difficult to continue hitting those sixes. And having experienced it in the last couple of weeks, I know exactly how hard it is to do that. So, as difficult a decision as it will be and it should be, I’d bat Bairstow at three and I’d have Stokes at 4.”
However, Morgan gave his unequivocal support to Malan.
“No I pay absolutely no attention to [media criticism of Malan],” he said, also on the Sky Cricket Show, a week after Pietersen’s appearance. “It’s definitely not the mood in the camp. The mood in the camp is that Dawid is the No.1 ranked batsman in the world, the highest ranked No.1 player of all time, which is an incredible achievement given the names that have been No.1 player in the world.
“Looking at the way that he played and the manner in which he has played since he’s come into the side, it truly has been incredible. I’ve played with Dawid for a very long time, and to see him get even better than he has performed in a Middlesex shirt and in a Yorkshire shirt is both great to see and adds a huge amount of value to an already strong batting line-up.”
There have, in the past, been murmurs of tension between Morgan and Malan. After the latter hit England’s fastest T20I hundred in November 2019, Morgan criticised him for failing to attempt a last-ball bye, with Malan subsequently left out of the XI for England’s next three T20I matches.
However, Malan has since stressed that no ill feeling lingers between the pair. Morgan’s words suggest an England camp united as they attempt to become the first team to hold both World Cup trophies at the same time.
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