Ashes: Meet Dawid Malan - England's new batting star

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I almost started crying - Malan on Ashes century

Dawid Malan's unbeaten century has dragged England back into the Ashes series, catapulted the Middlesex left-hander to the top of the Ashes run-scoring charts and sent social media and search engines into something of a frenzy.

Malan is a familiar name to many cricket fans but, to some outside the more immediate reach of the game, he was something of an unknown quantity when he made his Test debut against South Africa in July.

Fast forward five months to the Waca, he arrived at the crease with England - already 2-0 down in the series - wobbling at 115-3.

Captain Joe Root had just departed and Australia's much-vaunted fast bowlers smelt blood - so much so, cricket statisticians Cricviz tweeted the following:

Tweet

Malan, however, took on the short ball, left those which might have brought the slips into play and gradually built an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership with Jonny Bairstow that is now worth 174.

They put England in a commanding position in the match, and left the field with words of praise ringing in their ears.

"I'm a big believer in team culture," said former England captain Michael Vaughan on Test Match Special.

"The only way you get that unity is by people sticking their hands up. The only way you get a feeling of specialness is individuals, when the pressure is on, taking things on their shoulders.

"Dawid and Jonny fought and nullified some really high-class bowling. I hope their performance today will have given the England team a massive boost."

'Dawid is like a golfer - he's so meticulous'

Malan's route into the England Test team is a storied one. Born in Roehampton but brought up in South Africa, he made his first-class debut for Boland in 2006.

However, he took a gap year in 2007 to travel to England and he soon came to Middlesex's attention, signing for the Lord's-based club soon after.

"It was clear Dawid had real talent and flair, even at the age of 20," said Middlesex first-team coach Richard Scott.

"He's 30 now but he's done the hard yards and I think his best years are still ahead of him.

"What I like about Dawid is his work ethic and his desire to seek out the best players and coaches for advice.

"I liken him to a golfer who likes to go through all of his clubs before taking each shot. Dawid is exactly the same - he leaves no stone unturned.

"He gets distraught when he gets out too. It's not been unheard for him to throw his bat in the dressing room but, to be fair, I think he is mellowing with age."

Dawid Malan, second right, helped Peshawar Zalmi win the Pakistan Super League earlier this year
Malan helped Peshawar Zalmi win the Pakistan Super League earlier this year

After years of steady run-scoring in the domestic game, and some particularly impressive Twenty20 displays, Malan made his international debut in June - a man-of-the-match display against South Africa.

His authoritative 78 off 44 balls was keenly noted, as much for the composure and calmness of his innings as for the wide selection of his shots.

So when England needed a middle-order batsman for their Test side, they eventually landed on a man with 10 years of county experience - and more than 8,000 first-class runs - to his name.

Two half-centuries against West Indies earned him his place in the Ashes tour party, and he is now making the number five spot his own after years of upheaval in the national team's batting order.

Search engine Google saw a spike in requests for information about Dawid Malan over the course of his innings
Search engine Google saw a spike in requests for information about Dawid Malan over the course of his innings

'A man who belongs' - analysis

By Jonathan Agnew, BBC cricket correspondent

We have seen a confidence emerge in Dawid Malan over the course of this Ashes tour.

Last summer was a battle for him but I remember saying at the time that I liked the way he played because he owned his space. He knew where his off stump was.

Dawid Malan's ability to pick which balls to play at and which ones to leave stood out on the first day in Perth
Dawid Malan's ability to pick which balls to play at and which ones to leave stood out on the first day

There have been signs all the way through of a man who has felt increasingly confident of being good enough at this level - he made a half-century in Brisbane, took a really brilliant catch in Adelaide and now this century.

From what I have seen, he is not an outgoing chap - he just seems like somebody who works hard and gets on with the game.

Ashes pride comes after a (small!) fall...

Malan's status as an England Test cricketer has been 10 years in the making - in an interview with the Telegraph in 2008 he stated his desire to play in this country, saying it was "where I see my future".

During his early days in the UK, he played club cricket in Northants, including for Oundle in the Rutland League.

It was there where his star began to rise - save for the odd blip!

"Technically he was absolutely spot on," recalls his former opening partner David Marriott. "He loved to drive the ball and you could tell he was a very good player.

"But his first innings wasn't that brilliant. We played at Godmanchester, walked to the middle and I said, 'They usually want me to take the first ball' and he said, 'No, the more balls I face, the more I can score', which I thought was quite a bold statement.

"And he lasted one ball and had his middle peg knocked out of the ground, so not the best start!"

Such confidence is likely to stem from his desire to swot up on his opponents - he has stacks of notes at home and he spent hours on the flight over to Australia pouring over analysis of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

And in blunting the effectiveness of Starc and Co, he has emulated one of his sporting heroes - former South Africa captain Graeme Smith.

On the same Waca ground in 2008, Smith hit 108 as South Africa chased down 413 for the loss of just four wickets.

And while Malan will no doubt be delighted to emulate his hero, he and his England team-mates will be well aware of the need to put the game out of reach in the next couple of days - and send England into the Boxing Day Test at the MCG still in the series.

Win predictor: Eng 44%, Aus 20%, Draw 36%

Additional reporting by BBC Radio Northampton's Alex Winter

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