Eoin Morgan insists England have not forgotten about Tymal Mills and overlooked him in Australia for his own good.
A year ago the Sussex seamer was one of the hottest properties on the Twenty20 circuit, with his blend of searing left-arm pace and slower balls earning a life-changing £1.4 million deal in the Indian Premier League.
But the 25-year-old, who can only play the shortest form due to a congenital back condition, is currently at a crossroads.
Having landed a bumper payday with Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2017, he failed to attract any bids in last month’s IPL draft and suffered a further setback when he was dropped by Hobart Hurricanes for the semi-final and final of the Big Bash.
He arrived in Tasmania as a marquee overseas signing but was axed after conceding the most runs in the competition, leaking 389 at almost 10 an over.
“He’s gone through a tough couple of months, which everybody can go through,” said Morgan, whose England face Australia at Mills’ adopted home ground, the Bellerive Oval, on Wednesday.
“The way he comes back from the sort of form he’s in, or the luck that he’s running at the moment, will determine how he goes over the next few years.”
With just four England caps under his belt, Mills would be forgiven for fretting over his international prospects – particularly with the next World T20 more than two years away.
But Morgan was quick to emphasise that his current absence was a considered decision about the player’s own development rather than a knee-jerk reaction to a dip in form.
“We certainly see him as a guy who can gain a huge amount of experience playing in tournaments around the world,” said Morgan.
“Due to his fitness background we probably wouldn’t consider him until a World Cup year – pulling him out of a Big Bash just for a tri-series. We feel like getting a long string of games together and having a set plan could be better than travelling more with us, maybe playing or not playing.
“We feel him committing to one side, playing and doing his thing on the road is the best option at the moment. I haven’t spoken to him but that was communicated to him through (national selector) Jimmy Whitaker quite a while ago, maybe in the summer.”
While Morgan’s words suggested England still see a role for him, Hurricanes coach Gary Kirsten made a plainer call for him to raise his game when he makes his Big Bash return next season.
Speaking to the Mercury newspaper, Kirsten said: “He came well recommended. He’s done some really good stuff in his career. But I think the learning he takes out of it is that you’ve got to stay on your game the whole time.
“You’ve got to keep reinventing yourself and staying on it. By his own admission, he has work to do when he comes back next time.”