Dawid Malan has called upon the ECB and the first-class counties to offer more protection to promising fast bowlers in England.
Malan, England’s top run-scorer in the Ashes campaign with 302 runs in six innings, has seen at first hand the value of pace as Australia’s attack have hurried and harried England’s batsmen on surfaces on which England’s bowlers have found little assistance.
And, as a Middlesex team-mate of Steven Finn, Malan has also seen how the demands of playing too often on unresponsive pitches have robbed a man who was once seen as the most promising fast bowler in England of his edge.
Now he has called on the ECB to learn from the Australian approach and find a way to ensure bowlers of the potential of Finn are not diminished in any way by over-bowling.
“A lot of counties have one fast bowler who they will literally play in every single game,” Malan said. “Then, by the time he comes to getting picked for England, he’s bowling 80mph and is struggling with his rhythm and his form.
“Maybe the ECB could look at them and say ‘you play two championship matches, then rest one’, so they can get used to being able to bowl at full pace as often as they can, instead of counties just bowling the quick guys into the ground.
“Finny is obviously disappointed that he can’t keep that pace up and I think it’s just from the amount of cricket he plays.
“I’m guessing if you look at the amount of cricket Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood play, it would be a hell of a lot less than Steven Finn. And if your workloads are higher and you’ve got more miles in your legs, it’s going to be tough to bowl that pace consistently.
“People like Finny are going to have to work out what to do about it. If that means they’re going to have to have tough talks with their counties, they’re going to have to work something out.”
Another aspect of the problem, Malan believes, is that conditions in Test cricket are not replicated in county cricket. So, while the counties use a Dukes ball that offers lateral movement for much of its lifespan and the games take place on pitches offering seam movement, international cricket outside England is usually played with a less responsive ball and on surfaces offering little sideways assistance.
“You get away with it a lot with the Dukes ball in England,” Malan said. “There’s a lot of guys that can run in and bowl 78-80mph and make the ball talk all day.
“So you pick guys that are more skilful than those who have raw pace.That’s what conditions dictate. If you don’t move the ball, you don’t really have a career in England. That’s unfortunate.
“Whether they can do something about the wickets and rest the quicker guys more, I don’t know.
“You want guys to be bowling as quick as they can because it not only helps the ECB in terms of the bowlers they produce, but the batsmen as well.”