DAWID MALAN can be the missing piece in Yorkshire’s jigsaw after signing for the club on a four-year deal.
Some might say that there is more than one piece missing in the jigsaw; after all, Yorkshire remain in need of a high-class spinner, with an overseas tweaker expected soon.
But it is their batting that has let them down for years, their batting that was most in need of attention.
Malan has scored more than 11,000 first-class runs, a shade under 10,000 in the white-ball formats and played Test cricket for England as recently as last year.
Malan is perhaps the perfect signing – good enough to have played Test cricket only recently, but perhaps unlikely to get back into the Test side any time soon – unless, of course, he scores a veritable torrent of runs for Yorkshire, who would clearly benefit if that was the case.Chris Waters
Small wonder that Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire first-team coach, described the 32-year-old as a “fantastic signing”.
The proof of the pudding, of course, will be in the eating, but Malan is perhaps the perfect signing – good enough to have played Test cricket only recently, but perhaps unlikely to get back into the Test side any time soon – unless, of course, he scores a veritable torrent of runs for Yorkshire, who would clearly benefit if that was the case.
Of course, Malan remains ambitious of regaining his Test place; he is with the T20 team in New Zealand at present.
But, rather like Gary Ballance, who has carried the Yorkshire batting in recent times, Malan is one of those batsmen who, as far as Test cricket is concerned, may not venture too far now beyond the periphery; after all, he and Ballance were among only a handful of players who scored more than 1,000 first-class runs last season and yet neither had a serious sniff of selection for the upcoming New Zealand Tests.
Malan’s move north, after 13 years with Middlesex, first and foremost gives him the chance to finish his county career on a high.
He’d grown stagnant at Lord’s – “this feels like the right time to embrace a new challenge” – and he sees Yorkshire as a progressive club with potential.
Indeed, despite finishing fifth in Division One of the County Championship last season, there is a sense that Yorkshire are perhaps not far away from success. Malan’s recruitment strengthens that belief, and if Yorkshire can get that top-class spinner they could be a force.
Malan, moreover, is a man for all formats – ideal for a club whose white-ball form is in need of a lift. Yorkshire made no impact in the T20 or 50-over competitions last season, and although Malan will be playing for Trent Rockets next year in The Hundred, which clashes with the 50-over cup, he has more strings to his bow than just first-class cricket.
As a batsman, the left-handed Malan can be dominant or dogged. He can play the power game as well as the patience one. The man nicknamed “AC” – think Italian football – can do it all.
Just as important is Malan’s experience and level-headed attitude; he will be a good role model for the club’s youngsters.
They will benefit from having around a father figure, as it were, someone whose methods can inspire and give them confidence.
“It will certainly help the younger players like Will Fraine, Harry Brook, Tom Loten, Matthew Revis and James Wharton who have had a taste of it and been in and around it,” said Gale. “It will show them the standards that need to be set.”
Malan is an important part of Yorkshire’s rebuilding plan, one that has effectively been under way since he was part of the Middlesex team that pipped them to the Championship in 2016.
Malan scored a second innings hundred in that match, which the hosts won by 61 runs to deny then Yorkshire captain Gale a hat-trick of titles.
With Ballance – who turns 30 this month – still a guarantee of runs, backed up by Adam Lyth and the increasingly impressive Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Yorkshire have a more solid air with Malan’s arrival, with less strain now on the club’s young talent.
The pace bowling stocks are impressive – particularly if Yorkshire can get full seasons out of Ben Coad and Matthew Fisher, who complement experienced hands such as captain Steve Patterson.
Throughout last season, Yorkshire perhaps looked a player or two light from mounting a serious title tilt.
But with Malan and potentially a top-class spinner to follow, they might have a rather different look in 2020.