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Interview: England hopeful Tymal Mills

As the new County Championship season gets underway, Sports Mole speaks to Sussex bowler Tymal Mills, who has been tipped to one day play for England.

While there may have been plenty of big hitters and the recent Cricket World Cup, it was the left-arm quicks that took centre stage.

It was a quality missing - among many others - from the England side that were sent packing in embarrassing fashion after the group stages.

There are those, though, that believe England have such a player waiting in the wings - 22-year-old Tymal Mills, who swapped Essex for Sussex ahead of the new County Championship season.

Having had much of the last campaign wiped out through injury, Sports Mole caught up with bowler as he prepares to make what he hopes will be a regular return to cricket.

Tymal Mills poses for a portrait during the Sussex County Cricket Photocall at BrightonandHoveJobs.com County Ground on April 9, 2015© Getty Images

There was plenty said when you left Essex last year, so how much are you looking forward to putting that behind you and getting back to playing cricket?

"As far as I'm concerned, that's old news now and is in the past. I said something on the back of what Paul (Grayson, Essex coach) said, so I got that out there and I'm done with that. I moved straight down in here and November and settled straight in. It's been a long winter, mainly in this country, and a couple of good trips as well. I'm just ready to go now."

Why Sussex? It was rumoured that a lot of counties had an interest in signing you, but what did Sussex offer that tempted you?

"They tick a lot of boxes. Obviously, they're a successful and established club. They've got a good record of looking after bowlers well. There are not many better places than Brighton to live - it's excellent. I had a good meeting with Mark Robinson (coach) and Ed Joyce (captain). They were clear with what role they wanted me to fulfill. It wasn't an overly hard decision to make."

Did the transformation of Chris Jordan into an England international down at Sussex play a role in your decision?

"I roomed with CJ last year [with the England Lions in Australia] and I gave him a ring before I came down here. I asked how it was down here and he didn't have anything bad to say about the club. To be fair to him, I can only echo that now. He's been brilliant since joining up."

There's a slope down at Sussex - have you been able to adapt to that yet?

"I've never actually played here before, so since we got back from Abu Dhabi in the last two weeks or so, I've just been trying to get my head around it. I've struggled a little bit, but I'm getting used to it the more and more that I bowl. I'm confident that I'll crack it in the end."

Tymal Mills of Sussex bowls during day one of the friendly match between Sussex and Surrey at The BrightonandHoveJobs.com County Ground, on April 07, 2014© Getty Images

Much of last season was ruined for you by what first appeared to be a serious spine problem. How is the fitness now?

"It was a bit scary until we found out what was going on and got the all clear. I've been flying since February time when we got back outdoors. It was a big relief to get that behind me."

Were there ever any doubts as to whether you'd play again? Or would ever be free of pain?

"A little bit. There was a time when we didn't know what was wrong and that wasn't very nice. Luckily, all the tests that they did for the major things came back negative. It was great news to get."

When some sportsmen and women suffer serious injuries, they modify their training and even lifestyle. Have you had to make any changes?

"I've lost a little bit of weight and trimmed down a bit. Since getting the results, we decided that I needed to reduce the amount of stress going through my body. I'm probably in the best shape that I've ever been in. I didn't bowl too much, I've just been in the gym and had some pretty horrible sessions out on the athletics track! It's all for the best, though, and hopefully I'll end up reaping the rewards of that."

On a personal level, what improvements are you hoping to make this year at Sussex?

"Red-ball cricket is where I know that I need to start making a bit of a move. I haven't been as good at that at Essex as what I would have wanted. I'd say that the wickets in Division One will suit me a little bit better because they're a bit flatter and quicker. In Division Two, it tends to suit the seamers and swing bowlers a bit more. Hopefully, that will help me.

"In white-ball cricket I'm confident and feel like I can make some positive movement with Sussex. I'll be putting myself under a bit of pressure to help them win games."

Tymal Mills of England during a nets session at Floreat Oval on October 29, 2013© Getty Images

How do you rate the strength of the bowling unit that you've joined up with?

"We've signed myself and Ajmal (Shahzad) to what was already a good squad. We like to think that our bowling unit is as good as any. To win a Championship game you've got to be able to take 20 wickets and do it consistently. Hopefully we will back up Steve Magoffin, who is excellent from what I've seen - he doesn't miss. We've got a good blend to our bowling attack and we complement each other well. When everybody is fit, we've got all bases and situations covered."

Recently, your coach Mark Robinson and one-day captain Luke Wright have been talking up your chances of playing for England. Is that something that you're thinking about, or are you solely concentrating on taking wickets for Sussex?

"I can't think about that anymore. I've probably been guilty of doing that in the past, but with the injuries and illness that I had kicking about last year, it was a reality check. I'm not thinking that far ahead. All I want to do is stay fit. I know that I'm going to be managed well down here and given the best chance to do so. Hopefully, if I keep it simple and keep doing the right things, I'll get the rewards further down the line."

Even so, do you see space for a left-armer like yourself in the England squad?

"Seeing the World Cup, left-arm quicks were the most successful bowlers. If I was going to get selected at all, white-ball cricket is where I'd feel most comfortable first of all. To see Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Trent Boult and guys like that doing well, it's encouraging. If I can have a good season with the white ball at Sussex, you never know what can happen."

The English bowlers received some criticism for their performances at the World Cup. Was that fair? Or do thinks need to change from a mentality point of view?

"English sport in general - not just cricket - we tend to be more safe than radical. It's the same with football and rugby and all sports. Personally, I like to take risks and do the spectacular rather than take the safe option."

Tymal Mills of England during a nets session at the WACA on October 30, 2013© Getty Images

Could that mindset perhaps dent your chances of forcing your way into the England squad?

"Potentially, but I'm quite stubborn in that respect. I'm not going to change that. If I do that, it changes who I am and takes away my x-factor. I'll always try to bowl quick and I'm not going to be afraid to bowl certain balls. I want to bowl the big overs and win games."

If England isn't the aim, what are you hoping to achieve this season?

"I want to get through this season injury-free. That will be a great start for me because I'm yet to do that. From a personal point of view, it's a very basic thing, but I need to do it. Even if I don't bowl very well at times, if I can stay away from big injuries, I can take some solace from that. Obviously, every time you bowl, you put yourself under pressure.

"In white-ball cricket I want to stand up and bowl those big overs and in red-ball cricket, maybe the opposite. I want to just relax and give myself the best chance to contribute what I'm sure will be a great season for the club."

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