England v New Zealand, 1st Test, Lord's May 13, 2013

Bresnan confident his bite is back

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Tim Bresnan has Alastair Cook in his sights over the next two days at Lord's as he attempts to secure a recall for the opening Test against New Zealand. The England captain could be in for an uncomfortable time.

Cook briefly netted against James Anderson and Stuart Broad on Monday but practice will go up in intensity on Tuesday with Bresnan keen to show that he is worth a starting place after recovering from the elbow problem that hampered him for much of the previous year.

"I would not be surprised if the net rota goes up and I'm bowling at him," Bresnan said. "I think that is one of the things Andy Flower likes to do."

He has taken 13 County Championship wickets at 27.07 for Yorkshire this season and believes he is back "as good as ever" after having a piece of bone removed from his right elbow. But he is still expected to be the 12th man when the coin goes up and that is something he is desperate to change over the next few days.

"I am not here to carry the drinks," he said. "I am here to play the game and throw my hat in the ring for selection. I think the next two days will tell the management and Cooky a lot about where I am at and what I can do.

"I probably lost three or four yards of pace to be honest. I feel I have got that back. I can sit here and say whatever but it is just as easy to show everyone. I can spin a yarn and say it is all brilliant or I can just get on the park and show you what my pace is like. I have not been in front of a speed gun but it feels alright."

Bresnan has actually only missed England's most recent three Tests having previously played in Nagpur. But at the conclusion of that match, where he went wicketless for the second time in the India series, he had taken two wickets at 210 in his last four outings dating back to the start of the South Africa series.

His last telling contribution with the red ball - his one-day form had not quite suffered in the same way, with 10 overs proving more manageable - had been against West Indies, at Trent Bridge, where he took the Man-of-the-Match award for eight wickets. At that point in his career he had 52 wickets at 25.46 and his 13 Tests had all been England victories.

But for him to plot a route back into the Test team for the first match of the season he will need to get past Steven Finn, who took six wickets in his last outing in Auckland, although those figures flattered him. Finn has not been at his best for Middlesex this season with seven wickets at 39.57 in three matches, which is one more appearance than either Broad or Anderson after the ECB made Finn available against Warwickshire.

Just as these next few days are important for Bresnan, they are equally so for Finn. His Test record - 80 wickets at 29.60 - is far from poor, but he has yet to completely convince that he has found his stride. The work on his run-up has played a part and he was back to the longer version at Edgbaston last week, suggesting the switch has not gone entirely to plan.

In Finn's favour, when it comes to a head-to-head with Bresnan, is an impressive record at Lord's (his home ground) where he has taken 25 wickets at 21.44 in four Tests. That included his maiden five-wicket haul against Bangladesh in 2010 and eight wickets in the match against South Africa last year in what was his most consistent Test appearance. Bresnan, by contrast, has five wickets at 66.00 from his three appearances at Lord's.

Yet, the fact that Bresnan is already back in the Test reckoning is a credit to his hard work which included a spell at the National Sports Centre at Bisham Abbey. Bresnan admitted he was not "deep thinker" about life, but conceded to a few uneasy thoughts before he had the operation after the one-day series in India.

"A couple of hours before the operation you think this could go one or two ways," he said. "I might never play for England or cricket again or I might be back better than ever. You have to weigh up that risk and then decide yes, put in the effort and get on with it again."

So far, that effort has been worth every hour of rehab and painful gym sessions. Now he aims to make life tough for a few of his team-mates.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mcheckley on May 15, 2013, 13:55 GMT

    Yes, I think with this squad you CAN play five bowlers even without the true allrounder, because this England team has so many bowlers-who-can-bat. But if you are going to do that you are constrained as to which bowlers you can pick. You can't pick Anderson AND Finn.You could have Prior at 6, and then Broad as a rather weak 7, Woakes as a pretty decent 8, Bresnan as a very strong 9 and Swann as the best No. 10 in test cricket. With Anderson not by any means the worst number 11 in the world, you're saying that you will get the runs you would expect from a normal number 7 spread across 7 8 9 10 - and i think that would be a perfectly sensible thing to do.

  • JG2704 on May 14, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    @mcheckley on (May 14, 2013, 13:08 GMT) Bres A proper batsman? He may be better than Broad or Swann - although I personally (despite his average and where he comes in in the order) think Swann is the better than anyone below Prior - but I'd hardly say he's a proper batsman. Woakes I'd say is as near to a proper batsman as any of our bowling options

  • JG2704 on May 14, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    @jmcilhinney on (May 14, 2013, 12:44 GMT) I think you're half correct re "but I think that it's unfair to judge Bresnan on his recent international stats because he was clearly hampered by his elbow injury" but I certainly think the selectors should be judged for playing injured/out of form players (maybe on past form/glories) when there are perfectly decent replacements waiting in the wings. Bres's stats were probably flattered in Oz 2010/11 and vs India in 2011 but at the same time he is probably better than Mitty makes out

  • JG2704 on May 14, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    @Shan - Yeah , know the feeling when posts don't get published. Re Swann - I'm pretty sure they have the best medical staff out there and if they thought he was at any more risk than other players he wouldn't be playing. If we look at our main current injury concern he's picked up an injury after a spell where he's probably playing by far the least amount of cricket in his whole career. Yes it may be a risk but it could be as much of a risk overresting. I would say he is just as likely to be undercooked by not playing enough cricket as he is likely to get injured.

  • Shan156 on May 14, 2013, 16:46 GMT

    contd...@JG2704, That is perhaps why it is important that Eng. try a 5 man bowling attack. That way the workload will be divided among 5 bowlers instead of 4 while giving a decent workout to all bowlers and also assessing their form and fitness. It would probably be a good idea to play Bresnan instead of Bairstow. But, I am sure that the Eng. mgmt. would not play 5 bowlers.

  • Shan156 on May 14, 2013, 16:45 GMT

    @JG2704, for whatever reason, cricinfo chose not to post my reply to you. I promise, there was nothing offensive in that message:-)

    Anyway, do you really think it is worth risking Swann in this series and the CT (though, I believe he should play a game or two in that tournament)? With so many left-handers in the Aussie side, Swann's fitness is very critical. The Aussies may have been thrashed in India but the conditions in England are different and they have some dangerous players - Clarke is, obviously, the biggest threat but Warner and Hughes can hurt us if they get going too. I would wrap him and keep him safe for the Ashes. Of course, it is true that he would need some overs under his belt before that and it is also true that Eng. struggled without him in NZ.

  • mcheckley on May 14, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    It's really a very straightforward selection. If it's Bresnan or Finn (as it seems to be) and it's a very close call and hard to be sure who is the better bowler, then Bresnan has to get the nod every time because he's a PROPER BATSMAN - more useful even than Swann or Broad, and they are pretty good - whereas Finn is a real live number eleven. Bresnan is NEARLY an allrounder - so that is going to tip the balance, surely.

  • jmcilhinney on May 14, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    @Mitty2 on (May 14, 2013, 11:48 GMT), I agree that Broad and Finn need to do more to justify their continued selection but I think that it's unfair to judge Bresnan on his recent international stats because he was clearly hampered by his elbow injury. Not clearly enough for the England selectors, apparently, but his performance prior to his first elbow operation was good enough to justify selection for pretty much any national team. Whether or not he would have continued in that vein if he hadn't required surgery, we can only speculate on, but I don't think that anyone would be foolish enough to believe that it was a coincidence that his performance dropped off greatly right afterwards.

  • Herbet on May 14, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    The early season speculation about an out of form England quick usually revolves around Stuart Broad, but he has slipped under the radar this year. This is a big summer for Broad IMO. He has been a regular for years now but has still not progressed from promising to consistently good. If he has another inconsistent or poor summer there will be a lot of bowlers queueing up behind him, with Bresnan and Tremlett right at the front, and Onions and Roland-Jones not far behind. I would say that Finn is in a similar boat too, and really needs to kick on now, and stop relying on promising bursts here and there. The fact is England were at their best over the last few years with an attack of Anderson, Bresnan, Tremlett and Swann.

  • dummy4fb on May 14, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    @chicko1983 - "advantage Australia on batting ability", wow that is a big comment. Mate I think you need to have a hard look at the averages of Australian batsmen.Clarke is the only one who averages more than 40(although he averages 50). Batting ability is not just about strokeplay. Otherwise Warner would have been amongst the best batsmen.

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