Mills has left England battered and bruised

EXPRESS DELIVERY: Tymal Mills in action for Mildenhall picture: roger arbon

EXPRESS DELIVERY: Tymal Mills in action for Mildenhall picture: roger arbon

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Mitchell Johnson is not the only left-armer with express pace that has left England 
battered and bruised Down Under this winter.

Indeed Mildenhall bowler Tymal Mills’ time in Australia, as part of the England Performance Programme (EPP) that has been shadowing the Test side, has only enhanced his burgeoning reputation.

Alastair Cook’s peach of a bruise on his right shoulder was courtesy of Mills’ handiwork in the nets and a video of the Essex tyro sending Ian Bell’s off-stump cartwheeling has also proved a hit on the Internet.

And the 21-year-old has not just been a net bowler in Australia — three wickets in his first eight deliveries against Western Australia II last week prove his form has 
been translated out into the middle.

England coach Andy Flower drafted Mills in ahead of the rest of the EPP programme to try to replicate the threat of Johnson in the nets and Mills – who has been selected in a 15-man England Lions squad to face Sri Lanka in February and March – has loved every minute of being involved.

“You have got to earn the right to get into the Test side,” he said. “This was a great opportunity to showcase what I am all about, to put myself in the shop window as it were.

“It’s been a pretty simple plan for me this winter really, consistency.

“I just have to keep working on bowling that full length so I can bring all three forms of dismissals into play.

“I have played a bit with my run-up as well and the change has gone well — the more I bowl the better I feel.”

If Mills is to harbour realistic goals of breaking into the England Test side then his first focus will have to be with Essex.

The left-armer only has 18 first class appearances to his name so far in his career and found himself left out of the four-day team for the majority of the 2013 County Championship.

Mills admits his thoughts are already on Chelmsford and hitting the ground running next campaign in a bid to build on the solid foundations laid this winter.

“At Essex I have been in and out of the side, I lost my place in the four-day side at the start of the season,” he said. “So this winter the aim is to put in the hard work so that when pre-season comes around I am in the best possible position to challenge.

“With Reece [Topley] and David [Willey] here as well, it is clear that England are keeping an eye on left-armers.

“Obviously we do offer something a bit different and England have not had that for a while, but I know I have to get a couple of seasons of county cricket under my belt.

“Mitchell Johnson has obviously been a huge success this summer.

“I would not say he is an influence on me, everyone goes about their business in their own way.

“So he is not someone I am trying to emulate in that sense, but of course to have the sort of success he is having at the moment would be great.”

n Follow the England Performance Programme squad and their progress this winter at www.ecb.co.uk/epp