Tymal’s rapid rise
THE RISE of Tymal Mills from the village green to first-class cricketer has been as rapid as the speed at which he bowls.
Mills had not played cricket until five years ago, and only started taking the game seriously three years ago.
But his potential has already seen Mills earn a place at the Essex Academy, tour Sri Lanka with England Under-19s during the winter and then make his debut against the touring Sri Lankans at Chelmsford last weekend.
The confident 18-year-old said: “I was told last week that I would be in the squad for the game against Sri Lanka, but only found out I was in the team on the morning of the match.
“I was nervous before I bowled my first ball, but I settled down and got into it after that.
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“It was a great experience bowling to their batsmen, especially to such a great player as Kumar Sangakkara.
“I was pleased with the way I bowled – I only went for three boundaries in my 14 overs – although I would have liked to have taken a couple more wickets.”
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Mills, who returned figures of 14-4-34-1, said dismissing Test opener Tharanga Paranavitana, who was caught behind by Ben Foakes – the wicket-keeper from Clacton also making his first-class Essex debut – was the highlight so far of his fledgling cricket career so far.
“I now have my first wicket, first catch and first runs,” he proudly added.
Mills did not get the chance to bowl in the second innings as rain ended the match early on the third day as a draw, and it was back to playing 2nd XI cricket this week for Essex in a three-day game against Surrey at Coggeshall.
Nonetheless it has been an incredible journey so far for Yorkshire-born Mills whose family moved to Brandon when he was just two years old.
He said of his rapid rise: “I started off playing at Tuddenham before I went over to Mildenhall, where I worked my way up from the third team and I have played in the first team for the last couple of seasons.
“Everyone at the club has been really helpful, particularly coach Kevin Boardman, 1st XI captain Karl Holmes and Andrew Youngs, who I played with at both Tuddenham and Mildenhall, in helping me get to where I am now.”
Mills, who is just finishing the first year of a three-year course studying sports journalism at the University of East London, is now in his first full year as an Academy player at Chelmsford following on from his selection for the England Under-19 tour to Sri Lanka.
He made his international debut in the drawn Second Test in Colombo, although he went wicket-less in his 13 overs.
Mills said: “I found it a massive test. It was the first time I had been out to the subcontinent. They were totally new conditions to me – the pitches out there were very different and I had to adapt how I bowled.
“I struggled at first and had to bowl a fuller length, be aggressive and hit the pitch hard to get anything out of it.
“If you bowl too short it just sits up and if you bowl too full they play with a lot of freedom and put it away, so you have not got a lot of margin for error.
“With the heat and the climate as well it was very challenging. But I feel it has made me a better bowler. If I ever go to the subcontinent again I will know what to expect and I learnt a lot by playing for England against another international country.”
Mills, who then went on Essex’s pre-season tour to Barbados, admitted he has to occasionally take stock such has been the speed of his rise from obscurity to the fringes of the county’s first team – not that he is about to rest on his laurels.
“I am still only 18, so sometimes I have to pull myself back a little bit and just concentrate on improving.
“But I want to play for England one day. I need to get myself in a position where I qualify for the elite fast bowlers’ programme, which is a winter conditioning programme – I think they went to India this year to Dennis Lillee’s Academy.
“From that you get onto the England Performance Programme and then the Lions and then it’s the full England squad.
“It is quite a clear pathway and hopefully I can get on it as quickly as possible.”