The Ashes: Self-belief of Malan enables him to take game to Australia at WACA
Dawid Malan enjoyed every minute of the Australia pace barrage he had to withstand on his way to a maiden hundred which has breathed new belief into England's Ashes campaign.
Malan’s parents travelled from South Africa to watch him at the WACA and he was hugged by his mum Janet as he left the pitch unbeaten on 110 out of 305-4 on an uncompromising first day of the third Test.
The 30-year-old admitted he simply did not know what to do with himself when he reached his century, in his far-from-unlucky but highly taxing 13th Test innings.
Malan joined Mark Stoneman at the crease with Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc cranking the pace well above 90mph on a bouncy pitch.
He had already seen Stoneman hit on the helmet by Starc, then found out first hand how tough it was as he laid the platform for an unbroken stand of 174 with Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow (75no).
Malan did not flinch for a moment, and said afterwards: “It was good fun actually. I really enjoyed it - I enjoyed the pace these guys come with and the short ball.”
By surviving and then prospering, he has convinced himself he is up to Test cricket and demonstrated England may yet be able to battle back from 2-0 down with three to play.
“With anything you do, it’s the self-belief you have - you need to prove to yourself you do belong,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you’re going to score runs. I might never get a run again in Test cricket, but you still have that belief - which is what you need to perform at the highest level.”
It is a world away from a paltry 35 runs in his first four Test innings.
“After those first two games, I didn’t think I’d ever score a run in Test cricket,” he said. “(But) I’ve never felt under pressure - I’ve had the backing of the coaches and the captain.”
And Malan had to tame one of the world’s best attacks.
“You play county cricket and you’re more worried about your front pad getting blown off or nicking a 78mph dibbly-dobbly,” he added.
“It was hostile; it was tough to work out how to play it, take it on or duck it. They’ve tested you in different ways, not only technically but tested your heart as well.”
Recalling the moment he reached three figures, he added: “It was so emotional. I didn’t really know what to do.
“I almost started crying. To do it in front of them, the amount of sacrifices my old man and mother have made to get me here, is great. To repay them for all the time they’ve given me.”
Australia, meanwhile, must regroup - after a day which began with allegations arriving from the other side of the world, via The Sun newspaper, that this Test match might be in danger of corruption from spot-fixers.
Global administrators have provided reassurances there is currently no evidence of any such plot, and Australia wicketkeeper Tim Paine insists there is no chance any of his team-mates could become embroiled.
“All our guys have been educated on that sort of stuff for a long time - I’ve been contracted since I was 16, and been through it every year,” he said.
“So we certainly know what’s right and wrong, and I’d be very surprised - well, I know - there’s no one in that team involved in any of that.”