Dawid Malan believes it would be unfair for England head coach Matthew Mott to take the blame for a dire Cricket World Cup campaign, suggesting the players themselves “need to take responsibility”.
England arrived in India as reigning champions and among the favourites but have unravelled in dramatic fashion over the past month.
After six games they sit bottom of the table in 10th place, with a solitary win against fellow strugglers Bangladesh, putting Mott’s white-ball role under scrutiny.
Speculation over the Australian’s position increased when Eoin Morgan, the side’s World Cup-winning former captain, claimed the squad seemed “unsettled” and later suggested England “take a leaf out of Baz’s book” – a direct reference to Test coach Brendon McCullum.
Malan, the top run-scorer and solitary centurion in an underperforming lineup, told BBC Sport: “Motty is not the one walking out on the field.
“We are being given everything we need to perform. The facilities and work, everything is being done as it always has been, we just haven’t been able to find a way to get wins on the board. It has been frustrating from a players’ point of view because we know we’re better than that.
“I’m not involved in selection or any of those things, so I don’t know how that works or who is in charge of all that, but as players we need to take responsibility when we cross that rope.”
Malan broadened the focus away from Mott’s future, insisting that everyone involved in the campaign would be feeling the same heat.
“I guess whenever you have a poor campaign there is always someone who’s going to be targeted whether it be the captain, players, coach or selectors,” he said.
“People’s jobs being scrutinised and players’ careers being scrutinised. We have a hell of a lot to play for in the last three. The only way we can get the noise off the coach is by performing. And it is up to us next three games to win these games and take that narrative away because we have not performed.
Lost to New Zealand, 9 wickets
Beat Bangladesh, 137 runs
Lost to Afghanistan, 69 runs
Lost to South Africa, 229 runs
Lost to Sri Lanka, 8 wickets
Lost to India, 100 runs
“I know people say that a lot when their backs are against the wall but genuinely, we still back each other and we’re still here for each other. We just haven’t been able to put those performances out on the pitch.”
Malan recently accepted a new one-year central contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board and, at 36, was neither surprised nor aggrieved to miss out on one of the new multi-year offers.
He still hopes to play a part in next summer’s T20 World Cup but does not shy away from the fact that he is entering a different phase of his career.
Malan confirmed that his latest deal with Yorkshire was as a white-ball only deal, effectively ending a first-class career that brought more than 13,000 runs, 22 Test caps and the high point of an Ashes century in Perth.
“I’m not going to be playing four-day cricket, but I still have a contract with Yorkshire to play the Blast and I’ll still be playing the Hundred if I can get a contract in that,” he explained.
“I’ll probably try and play as much white-ball cricket as I can for the rest of my career. It’s prioritising spending a bit more time at home because my winters are so busy with internationals or franchise tournaments.”
Malan does not know how long his England days will last, but the appetite for fresh blood and renewal of an ageing side may hasten the end for several members of the current squad.
With that in mind, he knows the 2025 Champions Trophy may be a step too far for him but remains eager to clinch a top-eight finish in India and guarantee the next generation do not miss out of qualifying for the tournament.
“Two years feels a long way. I’m pretty sure I’ll be done but I’d love the guys to play in that,” he said.
“If the decision gets made to move on from players, the last thing you want is that we haven’t done well enough to give other players the opportunity in future to play in big tournaments. It’s definitely not going to be a situation where we just go through the motions because we’re potentially out of this World Cup. We have a lot at stake and a lot of pride for England to be in that Champions Trophy in two years’ time.”