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Malan proves to himself he belongs by hitting Ashes century

December 14, 2017

England's Dawid Malan celebrates scoring 100 runs against Australia during their Ashes cricket test match in Perth, Australia, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Trevor Collens)

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Dawid Malan doubted his batting credentials in test cricket.

After averaging 23.62 in the home tests against South Africa and West Indies, Malan’s struggles continued in Australia.

He scored 56, 4, 19, and 29 in the two heavy defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide, twice off short-pitched deliveries and once bowled.

But Malan was picked for his maiden Ashes series because of his fortitude, and he showed it on Thursday at the WACA where he produced his maiden test century and England’s first in this series, an unbeaten 110 on the first day of the third test.

“After the first two games I didn’t think I would ever score runs in test cricket,” Malan said. “It was tough but I found a way to adjust my game.

“I’ve faced a lot of balls in this series but haven’t got the runs to show for. It was my day today, and I had a few things going my way and I managed to capitalize on them.”

Malan came to the crease after captain Joe Root was dismissed at 115-3 after lunch, and the left-hander survived a run out and a dropped catch to bat through to stumps against some hostile fast bowling by Australia.

“They’ve tested you in different ways, and not only technically but tested your heart as well,” he said. “It was exciting to walk out there, it’s obviously not comfortable - you don’t really feel like you’re enjoying it at the time - but looking back it was great fun to get through those situations.

“Every time you open the newspaper, you read how poor you are and how bad you are. It is nice to tick a box and prove to yourself that you can play this level and that you can score hundreds. At the end of the day it’s the amount of hundreds you score that you get rated on when you retire.”

After a long career for Middlesex, following in his father’s footsteps, Malan made his England debut in Twenty20 against South Africa in June, and his test debut against the same side in July. He was born in England and raised in South Africa, where his parents still live. They were in the sell-out first-day crowd.

“It was so emotional ... I didn’t know what to do when I got my hundred. I started to cry,” he said. “To do it in front of them, and for the amount of sacrifices they’ve made along the ways to get me here, it kind of repays them.”

Malan said the team’s plan is to stay ruthless after letting opportunities slip away in the opening two tests.

“Tomorrow, the first hour is crucial for us,” he said. “If we give them any sniff tomorrow morning that first hour with the second newy (new ball), we’ll sort of give the momentum right back to them.

“So we’re going to have to be quite ruthless in the way we play tomorrow morning, put them under pressure and get some more overs in their legs.”

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