Mills stays level-headed as IPL venture nears
Tymal Mills says that he will not believe he is a newly-minted IPL millionaire until his £1.4 million fee from Royal Challengers Bangalore has landed in his account, but insists that his new-found status will not change his outlook on the game.
Mills' rags-to-riches tale was one of the outstanding stories of this year's IPL auction, as the player who feared, two years ago, that he may never play cricket again after being diagnosed with a congenital back condition was instead catapulted towards T20 stardom.
Now, with the IPL leg of his freelance T20 career set to get underway in the coming weeks, Mills has spent his short period of downtime since the end of the Pakistan Super League among his team-mates at Sussex, the club that he insists is very much his home despite his itinerant nature. He currently lives in a flat-share in Brighton, but says he plans on putting down long-term roots in the city.
"I need to buy a house and that will be the first thing," he said. "Buy a house outright, so I don't have to worry about a mortgage, just have to pay my bills, so if all else fails, that sets you up for the rest of your life.
"It's not real yet, not until it goes into my account and I get paid. I've had to make arrangements to receive that money, I've never come into that type of money before so I've got a financial advisor sorted and spoke to my accountant, and set up my bank account accordingly.
"It is a massive amount of money but I've not actually thought about it as it's not real until it's real, as such.
"I've mentioned a few times I don't have any money yet, but there are a few standard jokes - 'T will get it'- but everyone's been brilliant and really happy for me. They know the journey I have been on and, when the T20 Blast starts again in July, I'll be fully committed to play for Sussex."
Another key beneficiary of Mills' new fortune will undoubtedly be his mother, Louise, whom he used to help out by working on a fruit stall at 6 o'clock in the morning before going to school in Suffolk.
"She won't take anything off me at the moment, but she's great, my mum, and she'll get looked after definitely," he said.
Mills knows that his price tag will bring with it a considerable degree of scrutiny when his IPL stint gets underway, but he is phlegmatic enough to realise that it is "a batsman's game" and that there will be some days that go his way, and some that undoubtedly will not.
"With the price tag I've been bought for, there will be a level of expectation and I'm aware of that, but I'm just going to go out there and do what I've done and do what has got me this far," he said.
"It is going to be tough, playing half my games at Bangalore, you've got to temper your expectations and what is going to be a good day there isn't always going to be a good day somewhere else."
Besides, nothing that Mills encounters in the coming months will come close to matching the fear and anxiety he felt when his back condition was first diagnosed and he was faced with the possible ending of his career before it had truly begun.
"Being a 22-year-old, to hear those words and to have that option was hard to hear," he said. "It hit me hard. Some of the tests I had, to rule out other things, weren't nice to have.
"But I'm glad I took the option to continue playing, to give T20 a crack. It's been an up and down couple of years, a journey that has culminated with getting this recognition in the IPL. It's a really exciting time and I'm looking forward to getting out there."
Tymal Mills was speaking at a Yorkshire Tea and Chance to Shine event to launch the search for the country's best Junior Journalists. To find out more and to enter go to https://www.chancetoshine.org/juniorjourno/junior-journalist-competition
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket