Ashes 2021-22: Malan relishing unexpected Test chance after thwarting Australia with Root

By Sports Desk December 10, 2021

Dawid Malan admitted he thought he "may never play another Test again" after the left-hander combined with Joe Root to frustrate Australia in Brisbane.

England were skittled for 147 on the opening day of the Ashes and problems were compounded when Travis Head's 152 guided Australia to 425, the hosts boasting a 278-run first-innings lead.

When Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed were dismissed with just 61 on the board in response, Root's side were teetering once more on day three before the vital partnership between the England captain and Malan.

The pair dug deep to record an unbeaten 159-run partnership, with Malan six behind his skipper, who reached the close of play on 86 not out as England reduced Australia's lead to 58.

Malan, who flourished in Perth during the last Ashes trip before losing his place due to a lack of form, is relishing the somewhat unexpected opportunity of facing Australia once again. 

"I thought I'd never play another Test again," he told reporters. "I actually said to Rooty when we were on 40 or 50 and the Barmy Army were singing, 'I've really missed this'."

"I've missed having someone trying to blow my head off all the time, the crowd going and the adrenaline going, playing against the best bowlers going around. Test cricket is the pinnacle.

"To be able to stand out here in an England shirt. I'm so proud to do that. Especially to do it here at The Gabba in front of everyone. It's just really good fun.

"You can do as well as you want in Twenty20 or 50-over cricket, but you're judged a lot by your Test career at the end of it. For us, an Ashes series is the biggest series of our calendar so to come here and get runs against this really good attack is very satisfying."

Root, who has amassed 1,541 runs in a prolific 2021, moved past former England captain Michael Vaughan (1,481 in 2002) for the most runs in a calendar year for his country in Test cricket.

While hailing the work of his skipper – who is closing in on a maiden century in Australia – Malan appreciated England are still in a difficult position.

"The job isn't done yet, just getting an 80 doesn't mean you've made it, it's about scoring the big hundred that will change the game," he added.

"They are so brilliant at closing that door on us. We need one more good 100-run partnership to put a score on the board and then who knows what can happen? To come in after a day and a half of hard fielding and do what we did here was fantastic, but that’s only half the job.

"Joe's record obviously speaks for itself, with what he's done in his career. Batting with him is great because he takes the pressure off you, always looks to score and seems to find a way of putting the pressure back on the bowlers. 

"It's a great sign for us as a team that Joe is playing so well and leading from the front."

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