Dawid Malan
Dawid Malan | image source - @espncricinfo

Since his inclusion in England’s provisional 15-man squad for the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup, the name of Dawid Malan has been very prominent in the media, with plenty criticising his place in the squad.

Following the naming of the squad, Malan has been under fire from ex-players turned pundits and cricket writers, who have expressed their surprise at his inclusion, given the extensive list of white ball talent England now possesses that didn’t make the squad. But why, given Malan’s form in an England shirt?

England is one of the favourites to win the 2023 Cricket World Cup

On the one hand, the criticism is coming from a good place. England is one of the best ODI sides in the world, and has a great chance of winning the World Cup. The bookmakers make England the second favourites after India, who are 2/1 to win the competition on home soil. In the latest sports betting, England is 11/4 to win the World Cup for the second time. Those odds are fractional, a betting calculator can work out what those odds mean in decimal points if that’s what you prefer.

So with England in with a great chance of retaining the World Cup, it’s easy to see why some question the inclusion of any player, not just Malan, who they feel may hamper England’s chances of winning.

Statistics back up Malan’s inclusion

Dawid Malan has the statistics to back up his inclusion. In the last three years, Malan has averaged 57.3 for England in ODIs. The only player that can come close to him is Jonny Bairstow at 47.9, nearly ten runs behind.

His overall ODI average is 54.92. That’s better than captain Jos Buttler at 41.49, Jonny Bairstow at 46.58, Jason Roy at 39.91, and Joe Root at 50.05. Going against Malan is a strike rate of 93.09. Only Joe Root has a lower one (86.93), yet no one questions his position in the team.

Is it because Malan isn’t a Marquee name?

So what is it with Dawid Malan? He seems to divide opinion, and it’s fairly clear his face doesn’t fit with some in the game.

Malan recently referred to his omission from the Trent Rockets team in The Hundred. He was quick to point out that he had four bad scores, and was dropped. But he wasn’t the only one. Alex Hales and Joe Root struggled at times in the competition, and neither of those two players were dropped.

Root was promoted up the order to open in Malan’s place. And over the past few years of white ball cricket, it’s pretty obvious that Malan is a better opener in limited-overs matches than Root is.

Why Malan’s place is justified

Malan’s average tells us all we need to know about his inclusion. His strike rate may not be as good as those of Buttler, Bairstow, and Roy, but it’s better than Joe Root’s, who bats at three or four.

Malan is versatile, he can open the innings or come in first wicket down. He can play two different types of innings, attacking, and the more cautious type, often needed in a tight scoring game.

The arguments against him simply don’t stack up. And this is why England continues to pick him.