Tymal Mills is set to make his first appearance of the season for Sussex in tonight’s T20 Blast match against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.
Mills is a miniaturist. Not for him the unfolding symphonic movements of four and five day cricket; he has not touched a red ball for two years and concentrates instead on the vibrant gig that is T20 cricket.
Mills, 24, feared that his career might be over two years ago, when he was diagnosed with a congenital back condition. Instead, the T20 game has not only rescued him as a professional cricketer but propelled him to riches and IPL stardom after he signed for Royal Challengers Bangalore for £1.4m.
His IPL experience earlier this year was a frustrating one. “I played in just five games at the start of the competition but unfortunately couldn’t make it back. There was a hamstring issue, then a back problem and then a hamstring again, so I had a bit of a torrid time.
“But it was still a great experience, with very strong competition and every team packed with superstars. I didn’t get all the money that was mentioned because I was injured such a lot. But I still got paid really well. And I’m close to completing on my first property in Brighton.”
Mills, who made his England T20 debut against Sri Lanka at the Ageas Bowl last year, attracted excited attention before he was 20 when he bowled at over 90 mph in front of the Sky TV cameras.
“It’s really exciting to be back in the frame with Sussex again. I’ve been working to change a few things with my run-up. The hop in my run-up had to go. That is what has been giving me hamstring problems, and I’ve torn my hamstring three times this year.
“It felt a bit like eating with a knife and fork in the wrong hands. I could do it but it didn’t feel natural. Getting rid of that hop and skip has been more mental than anything else, but I’ve trained my brain now.
“The ECB and Sussex and all the medical people have been brilliant in helping me structure how I go about my training. Now, if I can get picked up in T20 cricket around the world, I think that would be the smart thing for me to do. That gives me the best chance of playing as long as possible. I can carry on like this for a number of years.
“In one sense the back injury is the best thing that ever happened to me because for the past couple of years I’ve played only T20 cricket. I’ve not had to change my focus to other formats, like other guys have to do. Everything I do is geared towards playing T20 cricket and I think that has accelerated my development. I’m very grateful that I can still play and travel the world and meet great people. The Sussex boys remind me how lucky I am.”
Mills added: “We need a win against Hampshire because we don’t want to be scrambling at the back end to get through. A win on Thursday will give us some momentum going into a very busy period for us, with three games in four days.”
Head Coach Mark Davis says: “Having Tymal back is a big boost, not only for him personally but the whole squad. We have managed his rehab very carefully and he came through his four overs in the seconds on Tuesday and he’s raring to go. Obviously, he is a big player for us and we’re looking forward to seeing him reproduce the performances which lifted the whole tournament last year.” Hampshire have won five of their last six games at home to the Sharks.
Sussex squad: Ross Taylor (captain), Luke Wright, Chris Nash, Stiaan van Zyl, Ben Brown, Laurie Evans, Chris Jordan, David Wiese, Jofra Archer, Will Beer, Danny Briggs, Phil Salt, George Garton, Tymal Mills.