Tymal Mills insisted he is much more of a threat with the ball in his hand than ever even though he may not have as much of a ‘wow’ factor on the speed gun.
Mills’ express pace from a left-arm angle brought him to prominence, with a searing 93mph yorker which castled Chris Gayle in the 2016 Vitality Blast going viral. He made his England debut soon afterwards.
A congenital back problem diagnosed the previous year led to him becoming a T20 specialist as too much bowling can inflame his spinal cord and he has spent plenty of time since then on the treatment table.
However, he stayed fit throughout the English summer and was Sussex’s leading wicket-taker in the Blast before topping the dismissals charts in the men’s Hundred with Southern Brave.
While he was overlooked for a series against New Zealand before the World Cup, the 31-year-old remains very much on England’s radar and has been drafted into the squad for five T20s in the West Indies.
After a few months to savour, Mills admitted he may not be as fast as he once was but the trade-off is he makes up for it in other ways and has honed a devilishly deceptive slower ball.
“I probably don’t bowl quite as quickly as I did when I was 20 or 21 years old but I think I can still bowl quick enough,” said Mills, who has made 13 T20 appearances for England.
“Ultimately what’s most important is that I’m a much better bowler; I’m much more accurate, my nous and tactically I’m very astute – that’s something I take a lot of pride in.
“I’d rather be maybe a touch slower but playing a lot of games than being a tearaway and breaking down a lot. That was a subconscious sacrifice maybe I had to make over the years.
“I still feel in a good rhythm and in a good space, and I certainly still try and bowl my quickest every time I’m bowling a pace-on delivery. Naturally things change as you get a little bit older.
“I am only 31, I have to keep reminding people of that, everyone thinks I’m 40 the way people look at me sometimes. Hopefully I’ve still got a good few more years left to play cricket at a high level.”
These five fixtures against the Windies double up as a reconnaissance mission for England ahead of their T20 World Cup title defence in the Caribbean and the United States in June 2024.
Mills was an unused squad member when England clinched the crown in Australia 13 months ago and he is determined to do everything he can to put his name in the hat for the middle of next year.
“With the T20 World Cup next summer, it’s a really important series for myself to try and get my name in and around that squad,” he added. “The first step to that is getting picked.
“Hopefully everybody will be in a great place to come back out here and use this little bit of knowledge we’re going to gain from this trip to stand us in good stead to defend it next summer.”