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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

PSL 2018: Tymal Mills out to put injury misery of 2017 behind him

Karachi Kings bowler has alreday made an impact on his new team by taking the prized wicket of Kevin Pietersen with his first ball on Friday night

Karachi Kings' English bowler Tymal Mills wasted no time getting into his former team Quetta Gladiators, dismissing Kevin Pietersen, Quetta's batting kingpin, with the first ball he sent down in PSL 3 on Friday night.Ian Kington / AFP
Karachi Kings' English bowler Tymal Mills wasted no time getting into his former team Quetta Gladiators, dismissing Kevin Pietersen, Quetta's batting kingpin, with the first ball he sent down in PSL 3 on Friday night.Ian Kington / AFP

On the surface, 2017 was a mint year for Tymal Mills. His bank balance would suggest so, anyway, after the Indian Premier League turned the English fast bowler into an overnight millionaire last February.

In truth, though, it was a struggle. He had scant chance to prove he was worth the eye-watering sum that was lavished on him, after a torn hamstring restricted him to just five matches with Royal Challengers Bangalore.

A repeat of that problem in August restricted him to four games in all of last summer in England. Over the course of the year, he suffered the same injury three times.

And this for a man whose career always feels in the balance at the best of times, because of a well-documented back issue that realistically limits him to playing Twenty20 cricket only.

“I had five months rehabbing, which was pretty boring,” Mills, 25, said. “By the time I got to Australia [for this winter’s Big Bash League] I was fit, the hamstring was good, but obviously I hadn’t played any cricket for five months, so it was a struggle.

“I got through all 10 group games, which was good, but it took a little while to find the rhythm again.”

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The affable fast-bowler is not complaining. He knows how lucky he is. He is more likely be found counting his blessings than counting his cash.

“I’m still very lucky, I’m getting paid 12 months a year to go in and do rehab, so it puts it into context,” Mills said.

“It is boring some days, especially in England in October and November, when it is not the nicest time to go outside and do running.

“It is frustrating. But you have to trust that if you do the hard yards, and do everything you have to do to get it sorted, you won’t face any problems further down the line.”

Mills spent 10 days relaxing in the UK between ending his stint playing for the Hobart Hurricanes in the BBL and coming to the UAE to represent Karachi Kings, his new PSL franchise.

Playing for Karachi will give him the opportunity to impress Eoin Morgan, the England captain, who will join the Kings once his international duties are complete in New Zealand.

Mills’ injuries cost him his place in the England T20 team, but he is still in their minds.

“Due to his fitness background we probably wouldn’t consider him until a World Cup year – pulling him out of a Big Bash just for a tri-series,” Morgan was quoted as saying about Mills earlier this month.

“We feel like getting a long string of games together and having a set plan could be better than travelling more with us.”

The PSL fixtures computer pitched Mills against his former teammates from Quetta Gladiators immediately on his return to the tournament.

He wasted no time getting into them, dismissing Kevin Pietersen, Quetta's batting kingpin, with the first ball he sent down in PSL 3 on Friday night.

That would have won him some new friends among the Karachi following, but he was likely already well in with his teammates.

Mills seems amiable, at all times other than when he is projecting the ball at frightening speeds. Judged on the evidence of training before the PSL started, this was the way he goes about endearing himself to his new colleagues.

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In the nets at ICC Academy ahead of Thursday’s tournament opener, he was happily sending down boucers at full-tilt.

And – net-practice bouncer-barrage notwithstanding – it must be difficult to dislike a player who says he goes out of his way to try to befriend new colleagues.

“I’m the only overseas bowler in the [Karachi] team, so there is a little bit of expectation in that regard,” said Mills, whose side face Peshawar Zalmi at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

“You want to earn the trust of your new teammates. You have to get stuck in. In the Asian competitions especially, there are two very different cultures. It is different in Australia where the cultures are pretty much the same and you tend to get along straight away.

“I feel when playing in the PSL, IPL, BPL [Bangladesh Premier League], you have to make a real effort with the local guys, especially the younger guys, approach them to let them know you are a friendly face.”