Chris Jordan, Tymal Mills a death-bowling blueprint for England at T20 World Cup – Mahela Jayawardene
“I’d be disappointed if he’s not on that plane for the World Cup,” Southern Brave coach says of Mills
They closed out a tight win against London Spirit in tandem midway through the group stages – which Jayawardene said was the “turning point” for their season after a slow start – and continued to impress in the knockout stages. In both Friday’s eliminator and Saturday’s final, their opponents anticipated the ‘backloading’ tactic but lost wickets while attacking against the new ball, meaning Mills and Jordan could close out both innings with little pressure on them.
“From the beginning we knew that those two were going to be our closers, and that we needed to make sure we took it to that part of the game so that the experienced guys could close it for us,” Jayawardene said. “What we initially found difficult was the Powerplays where we weren’t picking up wickets.
“We rotated a few things and conditions helped. In the play-offs, we got a fresh wicket at The Oval and luckily Craig [Overton] got released from the Test squad – we felt that he’s a very good new-ball bowler – and him and George [Garton] had a very good combination going. That allowed us to keep CJ and T to the back end.
“Some of the teams realised that the back-end bowling was going to be tough so they were coming harder up front. We then realised that meant there were opportunities for us to pick up wickets and start taking control. Jake [Lintott] was brilliant in the middle, picking up regular wickets, and everyone picked their roles, fed off each other and they bowled brilliantly as a unit.”
Mills was particularly effective in the knockout stages, taking 4 for 21 in 36 balls across the eliminator and the final without conceding a boundary, and ended the season as the second-most economical bowler behind Milne. He had been challenged by England’s captain, Eoin Morgan, to present “a really strong case” for T20 World Cup selection before the tournament and Jayawardene said that he would be “disappointed” to see him miss out.
“I’d be disappointed if he’s not on that plane for the World Cup,” he said. “You have some amazing talent in CJ but obviously Jofra [Archer] is not going to be available for the World Cup and I think CJ and him [Mills] had a very good partnership for us. It gives England a lot of good options going into the World Cup, especially in the UAE as well.
“Throughout the comp he’s been fantastic. In the last two games, the eliminator and the final, I think he bowled 40 balls for 20-odd runs and didn’t give away a single boundary. That shows the quality of T – a healthy Tymal Mills is always going to be an asset. In the shorter format of the game he knows his skills and it’s a hard skill that he’s executing.”
This was Jayawardene’s fourth T20 title as a coach, following three IPLs with Mumbai Indians, and he kept up his streak of losing the opening match of the season before Brave went on a seven-match winning run to lift the trophy, although in this case, Southern Brave lost their first two games. He hailed the way his team had “managed the pressure” of needing to win almost every game, but confirmed that he has no interest in taking up a role coaching in international cricket despite his recent success.
“It wasn’t one or two guys, it was a complete unit. We’re very proud of the boys and the way they’ve managed the pressure. The last three or four games for us have pretty much been play-offs every game. We didn’t want to let our destiny to be controlled by other results. You need to peak at the business end of the tournament and we did.
“Having done 18 years of international cricket as a player I don’t want to live out of a suitcase for 12 months of the year. This is a good challenge for me and it’s early days. I don’t do too many tournaments so that I have my personal time to spend back home with the family. I’m happy to help out as a consultant here and there [with Sri Lanka] but not on a full-time basis.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98