Dawid Malan insisted he was unfazed by downshuffling the batting order when the situation dictated it after stressing its importance to English cricket as they clinched a T20 series win over Australia.
The perception that Malan is a slow starter may have seen him drop to seven on Sunday as England turned to their mid-order dashers after Jos Buttler and Alex Hales laid a platform.
But he was in his natural habitat at the cool Manuka Oval in Canberra, anchoring England’s innings as they rebounded from 54 for four to 178 for seven, enough for an eight-run win to lead with a playable 2-0 walk.
Malan’s 82 from 49 balls, including seven fours and four sixes, relied on timing throughout the aggression against a full-strength Australian attack and was quite something in his 50th T20 appearance for England.
However, he denied he needed to prove a point early on and admitted he had moved down the line-up in the past – notably against the West Indies and South Africa at last year’s T20 World Cup.
“I feel like I’ve proven my point many times,” said Malan, the former top T20 batter in the world, now in sixth place.
“Ultimately the way this team is balanced, when we get to a certain stage in the game I think everyone is very flexible in the way they’re going to hit.
“It was the same at the last World Cup, we chop and switch depending on whether we want a certain player at a certain point, especially when we’re off to a good start.”
While Malan is relaxed about the need to adjust into T20s, the 35-year-old has less sympathy for the England and Wales Cricket Board’s central contracts, which were announced earlier this week.
Malan was dropped to a lower incremental banding after losing his Test spot to Ashes last winter, while England’s all-time leading T20 wicket-taker Chris Jordan is left with no ECB deal whatsoever.
The current structure, introduced last year, does not differentiate between the red and white ball formats, with all players now on a single roster and on an internal pay scale, but greater weight is still given to Test cricket performance , which Malan thinks is unfair .
“The contract system obviously has a bit of an odd system,” Malan said. “Hopefully white ball cricket can be recognized as Test match cricket.
“We want to be rewarded for our performances for England, that’s what contracts are for and if you rank in the top five in the world for three years, you hope that you will be recognized with a white ball contract.
“You have players here who have been leading wicket takers for England in the history of the game and are uncontracted but those are decisions I don’t make.”
Malan shared a 92-in-52-ball run streak with Moeen Ali, who contributed 44 of 27 deliveries in the partnership to put England on a seemingly competitive total at the halfway point.
Australia needed 34 from their last three overs, Tim David 40 balls from 21, but the vaunted finisher was out two deliveries later after being rolled around his legs by Sam Curran, who took three for 25.
The left-hander, 24, has thrown the 18th and 20th over in the last two games and made crucial interventions on both occasions, suggesting he could be poised for the T20 World Cup role.
“As a bowler you are judged in those tough overs and moments and he has consistently championed a young lad who is still finding his way in international cricket,” said Malan.
“I think that’s what happens when you play in franchise tournaments and IPL and around the world; You come under these pressures and you are expected to deliver.
While scoring his second consecutive single figure result, Ben Stokes showed his all-around pedigree by taking the wicket from Mitch Marsh, who had already displayed a superb piece of sporting fieldwork, and catching in the air before returning to the field earlier his momentum carried him over the rope.
“He’s a freak, isn’t he,” added Malan. “It’s incredible that a guy with a weak knee could move the way he does. He risks everything, he always has and he’s a fantastic asset to England.”