No-fuss Tredwell serves England well
James Tredwell's tour of Bangladesh hasn't exactly followed the anticipated script, but he's happy enough with the outcome so far. In Chittagong he claimed eight wickets in England's three-day warm-up, only to be overlooked for a Test debut as the think-tank opted to go in with three seamers. Today, however, he had his chance to show his full worth to the selectors, at precisely the moment England needed his fuss-free approach.
A first-day return of 2 for 85 in 29 overs represented a satisfactory opening gambit in Test cricket for Tredwell, even though the field to which he was bowling in his initial overs was something more akin to the closing stages of a Twenty20 international. With Tamim Iqbal shooting from the hip with extraordinary success, Tredwell at one stage had no fewer than five men back on the boundary - hardly the sort of set-up he'd have envisaged in his planning on the eve of the match.
"I heard [I'd been selected] after training yesterday and it was a very proud moment for me," said Tredwell. "I did think I was in with a decent chance in the last game but that wasn't to be, but fortunately I got the nod this time. Personally I was reasonably happy with my performance. I bowled a few release balls in the middle of my spell, but other than that the ball came out nicely and I caused a few problems."
Tredwell is what you might class as an unobtrusive character. He toured New Zealand in early 2008 and was summoned to join the senior squad in South Africa before Christmas, but didn't manage to make his debut in any form of the game. That duck was finally broken in Mirpur earlier this month, when he went wicketless in his full ten-over spell in the second ODI, before holding firm with the bat in the closing stages of the match while Eoin Morgan belted England to a thrilling two-wicket win. But his reward for that resilience was a return to the margins once again for the series finale in Chittagong.
This time, however, he had a far more significant role, and no part of it was more crucial than his maiden international wicket, which brought to an end a masterful innings of 85 from 71 balls from Bangladesh's opener, Tamim Iqbal. "He's a decent player, isn't he?" said Tredwell. "He strikes the ball very clean and with no fear. He can damage bowling attacks, that's for sure."
Tamim had certainly damaged Tredwell's spin partner, Graeme Swann, clobbering him for three fours and a six from consecutive balls, before succumbing to a loose sweep that appeared to have been top-edged, via the forearm, to Matt Prior behind the stumps. "It was a very proud moment," said Tredwell. "To play [Test cricket] was a proud feeling, but to have an impact on the game was even prouder, and that dawned on me as the ball looped up."
Tredwell later added the scalp of the captain Shakib Al Hasan for 49, to bring to an end a satisfactory day's work, and at 330 for 8, he believed that England had just shaded the day's honours, having overcome that dicey period right at the start of the game. "That's cricket nowadays," he said. "More and more batters can take the game away from you, but we also knew that if we stuck to our guns, and picked up a couple of wickets here and there, we'd be right into them, and it advances the game really.
According to Tredwell, the Mirpur surface already appeared to be offering more to the spinners than Chittagong. "We'll take eight-down," he said. "The wicket seems docile like Chittagong, so it's going to be tough to get 20 wickets, but there are a few cracks and platelets [developing] on the wicket, so it does seem to be deteriorating. Hopefully we shall see, but the next day will tell us more. To get eight on the first day is a decent effort."
In terms of his personal progress, Tredwell was just happy to have finally made the grade as a Test cricketer, after several seasons of determined performances at Kent that seemed to have gone unnoticed as England concentrated their spin-bowling efforts first on Monty Panesar, and later on Swann and Adil Rashid. But with the Ashes tour looming at the end of the year, and no more overseas Tests between now and then, Tredwell was optimistic of keeping his name in the frame for the next seven months.
"They have brought two offspinners here so there's a decent chance they'll take them over there," he said. "I'm just trying to put my name in the hat, take my opportunity and make the most of it. You always have that thought or fear that it won't happen, but when you've got a goal you try and stick to it, and work towards it, and it feels really good to have got a go now."
Whatever happens, at least Tredwell has moved away from quiz question territory, after claiming a stunning one-handed catch to dismiss Mushfiqur Rahim in his only contribution as a substitute fielder in the Chittagong Test. "That was an alright catch," he said. "I was only on the field for one ball, so it's nice to spend the whole day out there. I've got four more now, and hopefully a few more in the future."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to http://twitter.com/miller_cricket to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.