If patience, persistence and perspiration really do make an unbeatable recipe for success then Middlesex batsman and England hopeful Dawid Malan might feel he has ticked all the boxes.
The 29-year-old implies as much. Consistently touted for international recognition during his early career and at intermittent stages since, a maiden call arrived last summer for England’s Twenty20 with Sri Lanka.
He didn’t play, but recovered and ended the season with three first-class centuries as Middlesex won their first County Championship for 23 years whilst scoring heavily in the T20 Blast as well.
Malan also chalked up record-breaking exploits as England Lions skipper against Sri Lanka A in July 2016 when he struck an unbeaten 50-over 185 at Northampton.
“I’ve no idea if I’m knocking on the door,” Malan told City A.M.
“I’ve had three good Lions tours but then didn’t get picked for the Lions. I went to the North versus South [inaugural pre-season series] and did really well in front of the selectors – it’s been up and down.
“Other guys get picked who are younger and probably only had one good year, not three, four, five or six good seasons together. It does get a bit frustrating.
“But it’s not my right to play for England. It’s not my right to be picked, you have to earn that. I’m not saying I should play for England or that I’m good enough to play for England.
“I’m just saying that if you look at what people have done to play for England, you think that if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll be looked at.”
Malan could hardly have made a better start to the season, scoring a blistering unbeaten hundred during the North versus South tussles in the United Arab Emirates and a half-century for Middlesex against the MCC.
While the 2017 County Championship gets underway on Friday, the reigning champions begin their title defence against Hampshire next week. A belated start perhaps, but his intentions are clear.
“My ambitions are the same every year. I want to score as many runs as I can in all three formats for Middlesex and I want to play for England,” added Malan.
“They’ve been the same every year – improve, help Middlesex win games and trophies and play for England. I’m 29 years old but for some reason I get seen as a 45-year-old who is over the hill. I’m 29 and still young enough for England.
“You’ve still got to have that belief, that ambition and that drive. That’s what gets me up in the morning. If I score more runs than other people pushing then there’s no reason why I shouldn’t believe I have a chance to play for England.”
Left-hander Malan, who won the Pakistan Super League with Peshawar Zalmi last month, led from the front with four half-centuries as he skippered Middlesex to the T20 Blast quarter-finals last season.
Given his affinity with the shortest form of the game, Malan backs the England and Wales Cricket Board’s proposals for a new city-based franchise tournament, although he believes some tricks have been missed.
“I’m a little surprised there are three overseas players [planned per side] and not two,” said Malan.
“I think it takes up one place too many, especially if you have all the England one-day players available.
“Every tournament you have, whether it’s to make money or promote the game, is to produce England cricketers and the more overseas players you have, the less chances there are for local players to showcase their talents.
“But I do think the competition will be fantastic for English cricket. Players have been watching other leagues with envy for years, thinking ‘why can’t we be part of this?’”