England call-up is a thumbs-up for Sussex star Mills

Tymal Mills. Sussex v Surrey in the NatWest T20 Blast. Picture by Phil Westlake SUS-160506-195145001
Tymal Mills. Sussex v Surrey in the NatWest T20 Blast. Picture by Phil Westlake SUS-160506-195145001

Selection by England for their NatWest T20 International against Sri Lanka on July 5 has given fast bowler Tymal Mills a massive boost as he continues his fight to forge a short-form career despite a chronic spinal condition.

Mills, 23, can only play T20 cricket as his back problem prevents him from bowling too many overs. Sussex’s left-armer, however, can still bowl as rapidly as he ever did in short bursts; earlier this month he shattered Chris Gayle’s stumps with a 93.5mph thunderbolt in a NatWest T20 Blast game against Somerset at Hove.

England’s call, following impressive form for Sussex this season, will undoubtedly spur the strapping Mills on to further heroics. Indeed, he reckons he can go faster even than the ball which castled Gayle, although the slower ball is also a major weapon in his T20 arsenal.

“You must always factor in the different pitches, the different dimensions of the grounds and boundaries, the batsman you are bowling at, the match situation – there are so many other things to take into account and you have to adapt to the circumstances,” said Mills.

“It’s not just a case of bowling fast. In T20, if you don’t have variations in your bowling method you will get lined up pretty quickly by the batsmen. In T20 the margins are so small. That’s why you need your slower balls, your yorkers or the ability to hit the pitch hard and get the ball to bounce more.

“In any case, I don’t try to think too much about my bowling – other than playing to my strengths and doing the things I know I can do. In T20 I know my role. I’m going to be bowling in the powerplay and then again at the death, so before you go out on the field you can plan.

“I try not to overthink. I try to bowl quick, when I want to let it go, and I concentrate on my rhythm and getting nice and bouncy in my run-up. I back myself to do what I know I can do and commit myself 100 per cent to doing it.”

Mills is also grateful to the support he has had at Sussex since learning about his spinal condition soon after he moved to the South Coast from Essex in 2014.

“I have been given responsibility to lead the T20 attack,” he added. “I like to set my own fields and Luke Wright, as captain, has been very good with me in that regard. I have confidence in my ability to do that but the club is also very supportive.

“When I came to Sussex, I was given licence to bowl to my strengths and was given lots of opportunity in four-day cricket too. Then, of course, I learned I can only play in limited-overs cricket, but that is going well and I’m delighted to get a chance to show what I can do with England.”

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