Dawid Malan knows that change is coming after England’s World Cup blowout and is realistic enough to accept that he could be swept away by the tide.
Malan has been one of the side’s strongest performers during a ragged title defence in India, scoring 373 runs at an average of 46.52, but at 36 years old looks vulnerable to a post-tournament cull.
A team loaded with thirty-somethings, including eight world champions from 2019, is likely to be broken up after one last outing against Pakistan at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens on Saturday, with the selectors set to look to the future.
Malan has more reason than most to resist. He spent years fighting for his opportunity and has put together an exceptional set of statistics in just 29 caps – only India’s Shubman Gill has ever scored more ODI runs with a better average and strike-rate – but is phlegmatic about his fate.
“Tomorrow could be my last game of cricket for England or it could still be the start of another journey. Who knows? We’ll only find out when the dust settles,” he said.
“I’m the second oldest in the squad…you’re quite realistic when you get to a certain stage. I don’t know what my future holds.
“Playing for England means everything for me. I’ve made no secret of that, I’ve always wanted to be part of this team for as long as I can but ultimately you get to a stage where you have to look a little bit further ahead and what’s best for the team. I guess there’s decisions to be made over the next couple of days and we’ll see where we end up.”
Malan last month signed a new one-year central contract which covers next summer’s T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and United States. But England’s desire for a fresh direction could prompt action in the shorter format too, and Malan hopes to get a clearer idea of his position from director of cricket Rob Key, who has just linked back up with the squad.
He is overseeing squad selection for the forthcoming tour of the West Indies and could also find himself in demand among players eager to find out where they stand.
“There could be a total overhaul for both (white-ball formats),” Malan said.
“I’ll probably have a chat with Rob in the next couple of days before I fly out, just to find out how he sees it and the direction he wants to go in. As long as people are honest, you can take that. And I’m pretty sure he will be. It’s been the hallmark of him since he’s taken over.”
When the fixtures were first released for the tournament, a final group game England versus Pakistan would have been highlighted as a contest with plenty of interest hanging on it ahead of the semi-finals.
Instead, it could prove a hollow excursion. England are only really playing for a place at the Champions Trophy in 18 months – which could be theirs even in defeat – while Pakistan need a historically ridiculous margin of victory to reach the knockouts.
“There’s massive regret from us all that we haven’t been able to perform as well as we would have liked,” Malan said of a campaign comprising six defeats and two wins.
“We’d have loved to be here at the business end, replicating what that fantastic team did in 2019 and what we did in the T20 World Cup in 2022, but it just hasn’t been like that and I think as a group reflecting on it, we’re extremely disappointed.”
England could hand Brydon Carse a first appearance of the tournament, with the Durham seamer one of those with a role to play in the rebuild, while Harry Brook should keep his place as a torch-bearer of the coming generation.
Malan is certain Brook is on course for a glittering future but urged against weighing his 24-year-old Yorkshire team-mate down with expectation.
“I feel like there’s been so much pressure put on Harry’s shoulders, almost as if he was the saviour of English cricket,” he said.
“The poor kid is still learning his way and he’s still trying to find his feet in international cricket and learn his game. Hopefully he learns from this as well and from all the pressure that’s been put on his shoulders, and he can find a way to keep getting better because I think he’s an exceptional talent.
“I can see him playing 100 games for England across all formats of the game and I hope he does. Harry is one of the quickest learners I’ve seen as a young player and hopefully he can keep learning and hit those heights that we all know he’s capable of achieving.”