Dawid Malan did not break into England’s Test side until shortly after his 30th birthday, but what odds that one day – even if just fleetingly – he might captain England?
That thought might have crossed the mind of more than a few people when Middlesex announced that he had been appointed as their new club captain.
The need to find Joe Root occasional rest periods will exist as long as he remains a multi-format player, the vice captain Ben Stokes is facing charges of affray and the player who stepped into that role in Australia, James Anderson, is approaching the end of his career.
Malan, one of the few figures to emerge in credit after England’s 4-0 Ashes thumping, struci a maiden Test hundred in Perth and showed resilience throughout, gaining a reputation as a tough cricketer with an appetite for the challenge.
Middlesex have been heavily reliant upon overseas players to lead the club in recent seasons as Angus Fraser, their managing director of cricket and also an England selector, testified.
But Malan’s stock has risen and, with a certain irony, he has been entrusted with the job just as England can be expected to make more demands on his time.
Malan takes over the captaincy of the club in all formats, with Sam Robson appointed as his four-day vice-captain. Middlesex will appoint a stand-in captain in T20 and 50-over cricket only if should that prove necessary.
It has taken almost 350 appearances for Middlesex across all formats, with him amassing more than 14,000 runs in the process, including 23 centuries, before he was appointed – although he did lead Middlesex in the NatWest Blast in 2016 and also led the England Lions to a tri-series win against Pakistan-A and Sri Lanka-A in the same year.
Fraser said: “In recent years Middlesex Cricket have looked at overseas players and new signings to captain the club but I now feel the time is right for players from within to take on major leadership roles.
“Since my return to Middlesex there have been a number of players who have developed from promising youngsters into high quality and highly-respected figures in domestic cricket. No player has done this more than Dawid Malan and that is why I am delighted he has taken up the offer to be club captain.
“Dawid has always held the desire to captain teams and we have for some time believed he has had the potential to captain the club, hence his appointment as T20 captain in 2016. Along with the belief I have that he will become an excellent leader, Dawid stands out because he is somebody who we believe will do the job for several years.
Fraser conceded that England absences complicated the issue but said that such considerations should not prevent Malan from gaining his rightful rewards. It is a view recently taken by Yorkshire with Gary Ballance and, somewhat controversially, by Kent with Sam Billings, a decision that will see Sam Northeast leave the club.
“England commitments – and I hope Dawid continues to thrive as an international cricketer – may mean we do not see him for periods of the season but, in my mind, that should not stop the right man from holding the position he deserves to hold,” Fraser said.
“In light of this Middlesex Cricket have made Sam Robson vice-captain in County Championship cricket. Sam is another player that has been developed by Middlesex and is a cricketer that is ready to take on further responsibility and new challenges. The pair of them will bring fresh ideas and energy to the County Championship cricket we play.
Frader also had warm words for the outgoing captain James Franklin, the New Zealand allrounder, who he said had “selflessly stepped in to fill a leadership hole.”