County news April 20, 2017

Coad success allows Bresnan to build on batting credentials

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'I've always been able to bat' - Bresnan

Tim Bresnan has more reasons than most of his team-mates to be grateful for the startling emergence of Ben Coad in Yorkshire's fast-bowling ranks - because Coad's success has allowed him to concentrate on his burgeoning role as one of the club's senior batsmen.

Coad, 23, had played just one County Championship fixture prior to the start of the 2017 campaign, but already he has picked up 18 wickets in two matches this season - including 6 for 37 in a hard-fought defeat against Hampshire, followed by a match haul of 10 for 102 that helped to crush Warwickshire by an innings and 88 runs a few days ago.

And for Bresnan, who bowled a grand total of 9.1 overs across two innings at Edgbaston, that meant a welcome chance to settle into his "armchair", as he put it, at first slip and take pleasure in the success of a player who - alongside Matt Fisher, the highly rated England Under-19 quick - could prove to be a pillar of Yorkshire's fast-bowling ranks for years to come.

"He's been in the twos for the last two or three years," Bresnan told ESPNcricinfo during the launch of the Royal London One-day Cup at Lord's. "He's always been there or thereabouts, but he's gone away this winter and worked on his skills, and you can see he's improved so much.

"I think that's the thing that Andrew Gale and Rich Pyrah have brought in in the coaching staff. They've given the young guys a lot of direction and a lot of clarity on roles, how they see them and how they need to improve. And he's gone away and implemented everything."

And Bresnan himself seems pretty clear about where his current priorities lie. At the age of 32, his England days are almost certainly behind him - three elbow operations, the most recent of which took place in October, have shaved off those extra yards of pace that made him a world-class asset during his zenith in the 2010-11 Ashes. But, on the flip side, his promotion in recent seasons to Yorkshire's top six has given his career a whole new purpose.

"I've always been able to bat," Bresnan said, and with good reason. Despite rarely featuring above No. 8 in his England days, he averaged a healthy 26.13 in 23 Tests, with three fifties including a vital 90 against India at Trent Bridge in 2011.

"The main difference between now and then is opportunity. I got an opportunity to bat further up, at No. 6 and 5 last year. That's where I should always have been batting [for Yorkshire], but it's obviously difficult as a frontline seamer to do that. You come off having bowled 25-30 overs in the first innings, and if you lose a few quick ones you've already got your pads on. That's not where you want to be.

"But now that my bowling's been scaled back, and we've got young guns coming through, it's a lot easier for me to put the flats on and stand in the armchair at first slip, watching the young kids go, and bowl the overs my body allows me to do and the captain wants of me.

"I'm finding that role a lot more enjoyable. Bowling nine overs in a County Championship game last week was absolutely perfect, I'm not going to lie! Mainly because Ben Coad got six-for and five-for, so if that keeps happening, that's all good."

Despite launching the 2017 season with a pair against Hampshire, Bresnan resumed normal batting service with a solid 61 in Yorkshire's only innings at Edgbaston. But if there was one innings that truly dispelled any doubts about his ability as a top-order stalwart, it came at Lord's last September, at the climax of a thrilling Championship race.

Tim Bresnan's unbeaten 142 at Lord's was one of the innings of 2016 © Getty Images

With Yorkshire and Middlesex locked in a winner-takes-all showdown, and with Somerset keeping their own hopes alive with a comfortable victory over Nottinghamshire, word came through to Bresnan on the second afternoon that his team needed to reach 350 and a fourth of batting point to have any chance to staying in the race.

His response was a brilliantly serene 142 not out that eased them past that first objective with the No. 11 Ryan Sidebottom for company. And though Yorkshire came up short on the final day, he top-scored with 55 in their failed run-chase too.

"I'm pretty comfortable with my cricket at the minute," he said. "I just try and do what the team need me to do, and on that occasion someone had to step up. I was the one in and going okay when we were told 'this is what we need, boys'. I just thought, right, I'll set my stall out to get there.

"Three-fifty is what we needed to be able to win the Championship and, if we didn't get that, we couldn't win it, so it was an easy equation. And if you give me an easy equation, they're a lot easier than the hard ones!"

Despite that disappointment of missing out on a hat-trick of titles, not to mention the departure at the end of the season of their inspirational head coach, Jason Gillespie, Bresnan is in no doubt that Yorkshire are ready to pick themselves up and go again this season.

"The disappointment from last year is only going to drive us forward to do a little bit better this year, and hopefully win it," he said. "We got the continuity from Galey being captain and moving straight into the coaching staff. That was seamless. You don't notice the fact that Dizzy isn't there, even though he was so good for us, because Galey and him worked so closely together, and a lot of what he was doing while captain that was kind of a coaching role already."

In fact, Gale (who, coincidentally, is also Bresnan's brother-in-law) may have played a small part in bringing out the best in Bresnan's batting back in 2015, when he suggested that he had the technique and drive to keep playing into his 40s, if he applied himself to what was then still his second string.

"That'd be the dream I reckon," Bresnan agreed. "Bat five, bowl a few overs of offspin … I look at players who do that with a lot of envy, it seems like a bit of a gravy train. But nah, I'm still only 32, I've still got a lot of overs left to bowl with seam, so I'll do whatever job the team requires, whether that's bat five or six and take the new ball, or come on as fourth seamer. I'll do whatever, really."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Michael on April 21, 2017, 9:03 GMT

    @SevereCritic: It's difficult to pick out the most nonsensical part of your comment as it was all ridiculous, but Broad scored his ton against Pakistan, not India. As for Bresnan, us Yorkies are quite happy to have him batting in the top 6 and turning his arm over when required for a good few years to come. Every team needs a grafter.

  • Peter on April 21, 2017, 8:57 GMT

    @Severecritic - your name certainly suits you, but unfortunately you're talking rubbish. Nobody is comparing Bresnan to the likes of Botham, Flintoff or Stokes, so god knows where you got that from. At his peak as a bowler, it would certainly be fair to consider him as world class. You obviously don't recall him being brought into the crucial Melbourne Test of 2010 and bowling brilliantly alongside Anderson and Tremlett to decimate the Aussie batting, plus the vital contributions he made in the 2013 Ashes. At Durham, he made a crucial 45, plus getting the premium wicket of Warner that as good as won the Test for England. Though he was never a world-class all-rounder, he always did a great job for England. One other point you made: "Even Broad made a ton against India." I think you'll find that Broad's century was against Pakistan. As for Bresnan's contributions for Yorkshire, it's no coincidence that he's been a mainstay of the side that almost won a hat-trick of championship titles.

  • Robert on April 21, 2017, 8:40 GMT

    To my mind, the difference between Bresnan and the other all-rounders that have been mentioned in the comments is reliability versus the ability to do the spectacular. He may never hit the heights of the others but you won't get the lows either. I'm looking forward to him serving Yorkshire well for several more years.

    I am really worried about Fisher. He has talent to spare but seems very injury prone. Somewhat like the current batch of Aussie quicks (Cummins, Pattinson, et al.) in that respect. I notice that Fisher didn't bowl in the 2nd innings of the just concluded 2nd XI match. The report didn't say whether he was injured or just being saved as he is recovering from a previous injury. I hope it was just the latter.

  • Rob on April 21, 2017, 8:36 GMT

    I have respect for players like Bresnan and Collingwood who, following their England careers, are determined to go back to their counties and push to help them improve. Many players just retire from the game once their England careers are over.

  • Sudip on April 21, 2017, 7:07 GMT

    @SEVERECRITIC.. first point -: flintoff was never a great all rounder for England compared to Botham, Bedser and Grieg.. besides his memorable exploits in 2005, he did little else . Bresnan has total respect from me as we know he shall never play for England again but will serve his county well and don't be surprised to see the tykes push for another title .. Fisher and Coad could be a fearsome opening fast bowling duo for years to come . I saw Tim B play last year vs my team Lancashire and he is and will always be a willing workhorse .. good luck for the rest of his career .

  • Miyoshi on April 21, 2017, 4:00 GMT

    @SEVERECRITIC Geez, relax man. You really are a bit harsh on him. He never put his hand up & claimed that he was a world class All-rounder! This article has nothing to do with his England career. He has been recently doing well in his new role as a middle order batsman for Yorkshire. The lad is enjoying himself. Cut him some slack, will ya. Btw, may i ask if you have some personal issues with him? :)

  • Simon on April 21, 2017, 1:39 GMT

    @SEVERECRITIC - i get it hence your name. You need to back it up with evidence. Seeing what he delivered last year in batting and bowling, I don't agree. An asset to Yorkshire plus experience of playing for England to give to the youngsters. May he continue.

  • GeoffreysMother on April 20, 2017, 21:32 GMT

    Very nice complementary comment Abhideshpande - but really lots of us are just fine with him at Yorkshire which we don't see as 'winding down'. Earning a bit of cash in the Big Bash in the off season is great but Yorkshire is what matters. I think you get the impression from the interview that that is pretty central to what Bressie thinks too!

    Nice too that Bressie gives some credit to Rich Pyrah and Andrew Gale for their part in Coad (and other young players) development.

  • S on April 20, 2017, 19:59 GMT

    Brensan was fairly useless as an international all-rounder. Calling him world-class is doing grave injustice to a long line of superb England all-rounders which includes the likes of Botham, Flintoff. And now with Stokes and Woakes peaking, there's no place for Bresnan. Really sorry to see that Yorkshire has to rely on him for batting; I guess when half your first XI batsman are away on national duty or in the IPL or resting for Champion's Trophy, it is time to dust out the relics like Bresnan. Scoring a 90 against a hapless 2011 India team is hardly the mark of an allround batsman. Even Broad scored a ton against India. Ideally, Yorkshire should drop him and groom a younger lad from their academy. They have a very good home program and groom their youngsters very well. Bresnan is just taking up space.

  • Abhi on April 20, 2017, 18:42 GMT

    With Stokes, Woakes and Jordan and maybe even Broad ahead of him in Seam bowling All-rounder's queue, it indeed looks challenging for Bresnan to England ranks. But 32 is not an age to wind down. IPL , Big Bash etc... can surely utilize his skills.

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