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Tymal Mills hasn’t had the easiest ride in cricket due to a horrific injury that he suffered when he was 22, but is now reaching new heights.

Mills had to restart his career when he was diagnosed with congenital back condition forcing him to retire from long format Cricket. Mills said: “It was quite clear my body couldn’t stand up to bowling the overs required in championship cricket.”

The fast bowler became a solely T20 cricket player. Mills explained: “I was given two options: it was retire completely or try and play T20 cricket. I was happy to have that second option.” Despite Mills enjoying the shorter format, he was never fully able to ply his trade in the championship, the Sussex seamer said: “that decision was pretty much made for me.”

Although the England international can still play cricket, his body often lets him down when he most needs it, which has stopped him from playing regular and consistent cricket every year. Mills believes this is a reason for his prolonged period away from the England set up: “England aren’t going to pick someone they can’t rely on to stay fit.”

Mills decided in the original COVID-19 lockdown that something had to change in his training regime if he wanted to stay fit and produce the summer that he wanted. The former Essex man decided to increase the amount of running he did to build up his fitness levels ahead of the summer: “one big change I really made was to just run more.”

Throughout his career Mills has always focused on more gym work and honing his craft rather than taking time to run. The Sussex seamer said: “I’m a big guy, I’ve never enjoyed running and I have been pretty bad at it, but I had ten weeks on my own and I figured out a few different runs round Hove Park.”

Mills felt a huge difference from this and has managed to stay fit throughout the summer and he attributes it to the running he started in lockdown. The fast-bowler said: “I felt a massive difference in my fitness from running, so I’ve just tried to keep that up when playing.”

Although the running has helped to reduce Mills’ injury problems, he still has to overcome the mental barrier of worrying about suffering injury. When asked if he worries about getting injured, Mills said: “When you’re out in middle and playing I’m not worried about it but in-between games and leading up to tournaments those things do creep into your head.”

The Sussex fast bowler had an incredible summer; winning the inaugural Hundred with Southern Brave, reaching the T20 Blast semi-final and being selected in the England T20 World Cup squad. The fast-bowler has been brilliant in the tournament; starting all three games so far, taking seven wickets in total.

The Hundred has come under criticism but it has provided a stage for performers like Mills to demonstrate their skill, as unlike the T20 Blast every game is filmed. Mills recognized that being on television every game was a big opportunity: “All the hundred are being filmed, that’s a problem with the Blast if you do well on a non-televised game, no one sees it.”

This is Mills’ first appearance in an England squad since the winter of 2017, in the T20 series in India. Mills looks back on this moment with pride but also regret that he hasn’t been able to reach this stage since: “It was unfortunately the highpoint of my winters, unfortunately I haven’t been able to stay fit and have a prolonged period of playing like that since then.

Although Mills suffered an unlucky injury, the timing of his injury aligned perfectly with the booming rise of T20 Cricket worldwide. The Sussex star admitted, “If it would’ve happened 5-7 years earlier, I would’ve had to retire.”

The development of franchise cricket gave Mills an opportunity to demonstrate his skills on the global stage. The fast bowler has played in the Pakistan Super League and briefly in the Indian Premier League (IPL). However, Mills is extremely eager to play in the IPL again after being bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2017: “I am desperate to get back to the IPL, as you say it’s the biggest and best tournament in the world, that’s where I want to be!”

Mills decided to make the move down to Sussex in 2014 after entering the final year of his contract at Essex and has loved it ever since. The quick bowler explained: “I wasn’t having to train one day for four days one day for T20 I could dedicate all my training and time to T20 cricket.” Mills went on to say: “I hope I keep playing for Sussex for a long time.”

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June 2024