'Two years ago I couldn't have dreamed of this' - Mills
As starts to the week go, few can have enjoyed better ones than Tymal Mills. After a flurry of bids in Monday morning's Indian Premier League auction, the Sussex and England speedster suddenly finds himself cricket's newest million dollar man. However, despite attracting a final bid of $1.8 million, a staggering 24 times his original base price, Mills is remaining admirably calm.
Currently in Dubai, where the Pakistan Super League has become the latest stop on his personal freelance T20 franchise tour, our meeting came only a day after a few mad minutes in Bangalore had turned what must have felt like a fairly routine few weeks into something that has changed his life for ever.
"Obviously it was a pretty amazing day, I certainly didn't quite expect it to go as it did," he says with a note of surprise in his voice. "I was looking forward to it and got up and watched it on TV in the morning and my phone hasn't really stopped going since! It's been pretty special and now I'm just looking forward to getting out there."
Before Mills' manic Monday, he'd spoken about entering himself into the auction with a relatively low base price - primarily so that his early season wasn't spent "twiddling his thumbs" until the start of the English T20 season in July - and while he must have been quietly confident of landing a contract somewhere, he admits he was blown away by how things turned out.
"I had a chat with my agent and he'd been speaking to the different owners and coaches so we knew there was some interest," he says. "But in terms of expectations of how much money I'd go for, I would never have dreamt to go for as much as I have. It was a pretty crazy experience to watch it."
It has been quite a turnaround for the left-armer - who might well have feared his career was over after being diagnosed with a congenital back condition shortly after his move to Sussex in 2015. Instead, shorn of the opportunity to play in longer forms of the game, he has reinvented himself as a T20 specialist and is now reaping the rewards. Perhaps perversely, without the injury that threatened to finish him as a cricketer, he wouldn't even find himself in this position at all.
"I don't know, I try not to speculate too much and focus on ifs and buts just enjoy what's going on in my career," he says. "It is sort of a storybook ending, well not ending, but it's come full circle in the last two years. Probably two years ago I wouldn't ever have dreamt of being in this position now.
"My back injury could have been the best thing that's happened to me in a way because it's changed all my focus to playing T20 and it's probably accelerated my development in that form of the game without having to focus on the other two forms."
With a good deal of understatement Mills adds: "Obviously the last two years have been pretty mad but it's worked out all right and I'm happy to be where I am right now."
Things certainly have worked out 'all right' for the 24-year-old whose $1.8 million deal sees him become the most expensive bowler in IPL history - not that he's getting too carried about it just yet.
"It's not going to change how I bowl really," says Mills. "I'm still just going to go out there and do my thing and try and enjoy it but, yeah, it's just a title really, it doesn't mean anything.
"Obviously people will be looking at me to bowl well now, I'll just keep backing myself to do well and perform and hopefully contribute to some wins."
Mills' new career as a T20 specialist has seen him rack up some serious air miles. Before his current stint for Quetta Gladiators in the ongoing PSL, he's been a part of leagues in Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia - in fact his two-game stint at Brisbane Heat, who share head coach Daniel Vettori with his new employers, was perhaps a contributing factor in Royal Challengers Bangalore's decision to part with so much cash for his services.
Vettori has himself said he was impressed by Mills' ability to combine express pace with a superb slower ball, and following a maiden tour of India with England, the fast bowler is backing himself to have the tools to succeed.
"I'm always looking to improve my game and add bits to it," he says. "It went okay playing for England out in India, but you've got to be smart, you've got to accept that you're not always going to get it right and that you're going to go for runs sometimes. You've got try and box smart and back yourself to do well."
With Bangalore's reputation as something of a T20 batsman's paradise, accepting that he might go for a few runs is something Mills might have to get used to, although, displaying the same calm that has seen him reap great success as a death bowler, for the moment he is not going to be intimidated.
"It's going to be tough," he admits. "As you mentioned I think the average score there in T20 is 198 or something, so you've got to set your expectations at a reasonable level.
"You can't always go for 2/20, 2/18 - sometimes going for 30 is a good day. You've got manage expectations, but I'm being brought in to try and change the games for RCB. Whether that be with wickets or restriction of runs bowling at the death, you've just got to take each game day by day and just enjoy it and back yourself to come out on top more often than not."
It is this ability to adapt and desire to constantly improve his game that has seen Mills enjoy such a successful 18 months or so, from quickly overcoming the prognosis on his back - of which the psychological ramifications alone might so easily have derailed his career permanently - to making his England debut and now landing his mammoth IPL deal.
Having played in T20 franchise leagues all around the world, in his own words he is clearly enjoying learning from the "different experiences" that each competition offers, "I'm mixing it with and against some of the best players in the world and hopefully I can just keep enjoying my cricket."
While for now on the outside he might be staying calm, you imagine that after the last few days he's had, Tymal Mills is a man who's going to keep enjoying his cricket for quite some time.
Charles Reynolds is a freelance cricket writer @cwjreynolds