England No 3 Dawid Malan admitted on Friday that he thought his Test cricket career was over before his recall to the team earlier this year.

The 34-year-old South African-born Malan was speaking after his gritty 80 not out in England’s second innings against Australia in the first Ashes Test at the Gabba.

Ashes first Test, day 3: Joe Root, Dawid Malan lead England’s fightback with gritty partnership

Malan and England captain Joe Root (86 not out) put on an unbeaten 159-run partnership to guide the visitors to 220-2 at the close of the third day and give themselves hope of salvaging at least a draw.

It would be a remarkable achievement considering they were bowled out for 147 in their first innings, then watched as Australia made 425, a lead of 278 runs.

Malan batted for almost two sessions on a blazing hot Brisbane day, but said he enjoyed every minute of it.

“Test cricket is the pinnacle for me,” he said.

“You can do as well as you want in T20 or 50-over cricket, but you are judged by your Test career at the end of it.

“So to come to Australia – to come on these bouncy wickets against these fast bowlers, that’s the test, especially for us in an Ashes series.”

Malan is playing his 18th Test match since making his debut against South Africa in 2017.

He played 14 Tests in 2017 and 2018, but did not play any more until being recalled against India in August this year.

“I thought I would never play another Test again,” he conceded.

“I said to ‘Rootie’ when we were both on 40 or 50 – the Barmy Army was singing and I said to him I’ve really missed this – someone trying to blow my head off, and the crowd going, and the adrenaline flowing, and playing against the best bowlers going around.

“So to be able to stand out there and wear an England shirt makes me so proud. It’s good fun, really good fun.”