Dawid Malan isn’t a fan of DIY.
“I moved into a new place recently and it took me about a month to build a set of drawers, because every time I built them they collapsed and I had to start from scratch,” the England batsman says.
Soon he’ll have to put together a treadmill. “I don’t know how that’s going to go,” laughs Malan.
He is five days into a 14-day quarantine period in a hotel as he prepares to make his Big Bash League debut for Hobart Hurricanes.
“I’ve got a treadmill outside the room that is too heavy for me to move in and, with the new rules from the government, nobody is allowed to help me get it in, so that’s just stuck outside,” the 33-year-old tells the Tuffers and Vaughan podcast.
“They are actually sending me a treadmill tomorrow to build and construct myself.”
The upcoming DIY project is the least of his concerns, with the early wake-up calls from the hotel receptionists a more pressing issue.
“They knock on your door at 7am and shout ‘breakfast’ and leave it outside your door. They are waking me up every morning, which is a bit disappointing when you’re trying to have a lie-in,” Malan says.
“It feels like you’re in a prison, with your three meals a day. When your food is delivered you’re not allowed to speak to the people.
“I haven’t got a window that opens and I’ve got no balcony. I think we’ve got the old-school wing of the hotel. It could do with a lick of paint and some new carpet.”
‘Eventually the pressure gets to you’
Malan is no stranger to bio-secure bubbles during the coronavirus pandemic.
England’s players stayed in on-site hotels to allow them to complete their summer schedule, and there were similar restrictions on their movements in South Africa before the limited-overs tour was abandoned this week.
The managing director of England men’s cricket, Ashley Giles, said everyone involved in future tours would be offered a mental health screening, and offered to stay in South Africa himself if any players had to remain in the country after testing positive for coronavirus.
Malan says the England and Wales Cricket Board’s focus on players’ mental health has been “fantastic”.
“To hear someone like Ashley Giles come out and say something like that for the players is massive,” he says.
“The fact that he’s your boss and he’s able to understand that as well as he does, then the players have a safe place if they feel like they need to speak to someone without being judged.
“The pressure that comes with playing international cricket, county cricket and the scrutiny that you’re under now from social media and commentators… Everybody seems to have an opinion these days – and eventually it does get to you.”
Top of the world
Malan is officially the best Twenty20 batsman in the world.
His performances in the 3-0 series win in South Africa – scores of 19, 55 and 99 not out – not only cemented his position at the top of the International Cricket Council batting rankings, but gave him the highest rating in history.
Malan has scored 855 runs at an average of 53.43 and strike-rate of 149.47 in only 19 matches, but he admits his place in the side has not always felt so secure.
“The last 12 months, I’ve played 13 or 14 of the last 16-17 games, which is the longest run I’ve even come close to having,” he says.
“The journey has been quite hard, there has been a lot of disappointment of rocking up on tours and missing out when you’d love the opportunity to play.
“It’s a tough team to get into, so to get into it is probably the thing I’m most proud of.”
‘I want to play Test cricket’
For all Malan’s remarkable T20 statistics, he wants to make his mark in the longest format too.
“I’d much rather be playing Test cricket as well,” says the left-hander, who averages 27.84 from 15 Tests – including an Ashes century in Australia – but has not featured since 2018.
“In the first 11 Tests or so I was averaging 35 and I actually felt I could make a career in Test cricket, but it just didn’t happen.
“If I could get the opportunity again I would jump at it. Whether I’m good enough or not is a different story.”
Malan, who left Middlesex for Yorkshire after the 2019 season, has scored 11,560 runs at an average of 37.90 in 191 first-class matches.
“There have been some fantastic players who have come through – Ollie Pope has done exceptionally well, Zak Crawley has been doing well. They seem to have a settled middle order at the moment,” Malan says.
“That’s fantastic for England cricket but not so good for the guys underneath that are trying to get in.”
Malan’s more immediate ambitions centre around how to amuse himself for 24 hours a day in a hotel room.
“I do a Zoom fitness session for an hour,” he says. “Then I sit on the bike for an hour. I tend to get through two hours of training just to kill the day.
“We’ve had the lockdowns in England too, so I haven’t got much left to watch on Netflix.”
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