They thought that they had made the ideal signing, a player who would be around more often than not to help their quest to win regular trophies.
It has not quite turned out like that – at least not this year, with Malan only making his first appearance of the season last week.
His star has risen since it was announced that he had joined Yorkshire on a four-year deal in November, 2019 – just days before he hit the fastest T20 hundred in England’s history, from 48 balls against New Zealand in Napier, since when the left-hander has barely looked back.
A recent stint with Punjab Kings at the Indian Premier League, which deprived Yorkshire of his services for the first six County Championship matches, evidenced Malan’s growing global reputation, even though he was chosen by Punjab for just one game.
Whenever he does take to the global stage, whether playing for England or in franchise cricket, there is still the sense of a man having to prove himself to his various doubters.
Malan, however, is an outstanding player across all formats, with advancing years no bar to skills that are actually showing signs of increasing, as opposed to abating, as he nears the age of 34.
Certainly Chris Silverwood and the England scouting network, which seems to be bigger than the movement created by Baden-Powell, could do worse than regard Malan simply as a white-ball specialist and awaken to his talents in the red-ball game.
For as he showed on his return to Yorkshire action against Sussex, scoring 199 to fall agonisingly short of becoming the first Yorkshire player to score double hundreds in successive first-class innings, Malan may well strengthen the Test side as well as the white-ball ones.
It is a proper tribute to him that he loses nothing by comparison with some of those in the Test team, nor that he is certainly capable of adding to a tally of 15 Test caps, the last of them against India at Edgbaston almost three years ago.
Malan looks to have so much time and style at the crease, driving as gracefully as anyone around, and can change gears at a moment’s notice.
The move to Yorkshire has certainly worked well; Malan was ready for a new challenge after years at Middlesex, and he has seized the opportunity with gusto.
But for one little misjudgement against Sussex on Saturday, when he allowed a delivery from off-spinner Jack Carson to slant across his body and to hit the off stump, Malan would have had those two successive double hundreds after a career-best 219 in his previous first-class innings for Yorkshire, against Derbyshire at Headingley last August.
The list of players who have scored back-to-back double hundreds in consecutive first-class innings is not extensive and includes such as Don Bradman, Wally Hammond and Virat Kohli, cricketing giants.