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Tymal Mills' Twenty20 globe-trotting has taken him to the Pakistan Super League and a stint with Karachi Kings. Saj Sadiq caught up with the paceman ahead of Friday's clash against Multan Sultans and asked him what it's like playing alongside Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Amir, about his T20 England ambitions and the ECB's city-based Twenty20 competition which is scheduled to be played in 2020...
After playing in the Big Bash, you're now participating in the Pakistan Super League; how's the body coping with the demands of such intense Twenty20 tournaments?
Tymal: Yes, the body is feeling good; touch-wood! I played the whole of the Big Bash and have now played the first few matches in the PSL and I am feeling pretty good so far. I feel that my pace is also decent, although I still have to work a bit to get my rhythm back. Hopefully, the improvements will continue in the coming matches.
Mickey Arthur is regarded as a tough task-master, but how has it been to work with him so far in the PSL?
Tymal: It's been brilliant. As international players, we generally know what is expected of us and what standards we have to maintain to be on top of our game. The only thing that Mickey has really said to me has been on a topic which is about helping the young Pakistani cricketers who are not part of the main squad.
We have a squad of 21 players and a lot of the guys probably won't play a game in this year's PSL, but they will then go back home to Pakistan where they will play in domestic cricket. So, any tips and advice we can give to them in the nets and during training will come in handy for them later. Whenever I get a chance, I speak to some of the young bowlers so that when they return home they can apply those learnings and that in turn, will raise the standard of the domestic game. This was the main message from Mickey to us in our first team meeting which was really important. In terms of the on-the-field stuff, a lot of us have played enough cricket to know what's good and what's bad, so the main emphasis from Mickey is in making sure we are consistent in our performances during the ongoing tournament and that we are helping the young guys out. If we can do that right, then that would be great for the players, Karachi Kings and Pakistan cricket.
What are the benefits of working with the much-travelled and experienced Karachi Kings and Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood?
Tymal: I have played a lot of cricket against Azhar in England and I have come across him a few times and given his fitness and knowledge of the game, I am sure he could play now as well if he wanted to. It's been great working with Azhar and our focus has mostly been on the tactical side of things. So, it's more about planning for the batsmen we will come across in the PSL as there are a lot of guys I don't know or have not played against. It's more about what he feels are the best type of tactics to go for at particular times. It's a pretty relaxed atmosphere with him, as we aren't doing too much technical stuff with the emphasis largely being on the mental and tactical aspects and what to do in certain types of situations.
It must be rather interesting being a part of a squad that includes Shahid Afridi?
Tymal: Shahid and I have faced each other a few times in the past in various different leagues around the world and it's great to be on the same team as him. I spoke with him the other day and he told me that he only played his first competitive game of cricket in the PSL on Friday since December of last year so understandably, with the bat he was a little bit rusty. However, with the ball he has been outstanding, and of course that catch in the first game was pretty phenomenal too. He really shocked everybody on the field with that fielding effort and rolled back the years.
What really impresses me about Shahid is how much he loves playing cricket. One could have played hundreds of games in their career and sometimes one can get a bit stale but that's not the case with Afridi. When we are batting, he is sitting with us all excited and talking to everybody about the game which is really good and uplifting for the team. With the ball, as we can see, he is doing fantastic so hopefully that will continue in the remainder of the tournament.
What are your impressions of Imad Wasim's captaincy?
Tymal: It's always a challenge when you arrive in a new team in such leagues where you have a captain you have not played under before. It's then a question for both player and captain to learn about each other. So, the first time Imad and I met up, we played a practice game where we got talking about a few things which was interesting for me. What I have seen is that Imad likes to have a few funky field settings which is different from what I have experienced before, and I have to trust him on that. Sometimes, I will have to say no to that and he has to trust me too. This is a long tournament and the good thing is that we have the trust and respect of each other and hopefully we will have a good relationship moving forward.
What are your thoughts on Mohammad Amir's performances for Karachi Kings so far in the PSL?
Tymal: Amir's been brilliant, especially with the new ball where he is very effective for us. I believe, I saw a graphic on TV the other day which showed that Amir's power-play bowling has been absolutely phenomenal. With the new ball in all formats of the game, he is excellent as he gets good swing and also bowls an excellent length with good pace. He has been brilliant so far in the first few games but has a minor niggle at the moment which hopefully isn't too serious. He has been taking wickets in the power-play and hasn't gone for too many runs which puts pressure on the batsmen to hit out in the next overs and probably lose their wickets.
Playing in T20 leagues around the world is rewarding, but missing out on T20 selection for England must have hurt?
Tymal: I play just the Twenty20 format as I have retired from other forms of the game due to injuries. I have played just four T20Is for England and was recently left out of the tri-series between Australia, England and New Zealand. I didn't have a great Big Bash tournament, so in a way I can understand the reason for not being picked for England duties. Nobody will pick players who are out of form which was the case with me. However England don't normally play too many T20Is, so I need to be in prime form when such games or series do come about. Yes, I am disappointed to have missed out on selection for the tri-series, but then you can only focus on what is ahead of you. Right now, my focus is on doing my best for Karachi Kings in the remaining games and bowl well for this team and then see what happens in the future.
You were bought for £1.4M in the 2017 IPL, but ignored for the 2018 edition. Was that hard to take?
Tymal: I had a poor Big Bash and the timing of that wasn't that great for my chances of playing in the IPL. But then I can't really complain as last year I had a great time with Royal Challengers Bangalore and as always, there are ups and downs in all aspects of life. There are two sides to the coin, and I have now experienced both sides of that. It's all about timing, so a poor Big Bash showing for me leading into the IPL auction wasn't great and I went unsold in the 2018 edition of the IPL. All I can do now is to focus on having a good PSL and as we know, guys get injured for whatever reasons and I could still get a call-up. Whether it's a call-up for England or a chance to play in the IPL, I need to have some good games for Karachi Kings and all those things will take care of themselves.
How does the PSL compare with other Twenty20 competitions that you have played in?
Tymal: I am lucky that I get to play in many different competitions around the world. In the Big Bash, we play on bouncier wickets and obviously you play in different stadiums as opposed to two in the UAE during the PSL which has its own challenges. The batsmen in the Big Bash are good with cuts and pull-shots on the back foot and there are generally high scores by teams. In the PSL, just as is the case with the Pakistan team, we see a lot of strength in the bowling, so scores aren't that high. If you look at the composition of the Karachi Kings' team, you will note that they have a good selection of overseas batsmen in their line-up, whilst I am the only overseas bowler in the playing XI so far which really is an example of how good Pakistan are with their bowling resources. To me, the bowling strength of their spinners and fast bowlers is what Pakistan domestic cricket can really hang their hat on as they are really skilled in those aspects of the game.
Will you be playing in the Karachi Kings team if they make it to the later stages of the PSL in Pakistan?
Tymal: With the final in Karachi, if we were able to get to that stage then it will be an amazing experience for me to play in that city. Hopefully, we will see that happen. We at Karachi Kings have all agreed that as things stand now, we will be travelling to Pakistan to not only play in the final in Karachi but also to take part in the eliminator in Lahore if we qualify for that stage of the tournament.
What are your thoughts on the city-based Twenty20 competition which was announced by the ECB?
Tymal: Yes, personally speaking, I cannot wait for the new Twenty20 competition which is scheduled to be played in 2020. Having played in similar competitions around the world, I have experienced first-hand how great these can be for the development of players as well as being most enjoyable for the crowds.
By playing in the best stadiums the country has to offer and alongside some top overseas players, it will do nothing but raise the standard of English cricket. I think it will be great although, it will be running at the same time as the English 50-over domestic competition which has 18 teams so there is chance that a number of guys could miss out. But, regardless of that, it will be fantastic for the crowds who I am sure will come out in numbers to watch the best English players alongside some really good overseas players, so I am really looking forward to the start of this competition.