England v New Zealand, 1st Test, Lord's May 11, 2013

Bresnan, Swann elbow their way back


The ECB's elbow surgeon has earned his fee after both Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann returned to England's Test squad for the opening match of the season against New Zealand, at Lord's, following their successful operations in the first part of the year.

The pair both played their previous Tests in Nagpur during December. Bresnan then went for elbow surgery after the one-day series in India while Swann had his in March after being ruled out of the series in New Zealand.

Bresnan is the fourth pace bowler in a 12-man squad alongside the incumbent trio of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn while Graham Onions, who is playing for England Lions this week and was on tour in New Zealand, misses out. Although unlikely that he will make the starting XI, Bresnan could yet force his way past Finn whose form for Middlesex has not been entirely convincing early in the season.

As the impact of his elbow problem took full effect, Bresnan's Test form tailed off badly last year and he has taken two wickets in his last four matches at 210 apiece. However, he has started the season promisingly for Yorkshire with 11 wickets at 27.63 and reports are that his pace is back to somewhere near 2011 levels.

Geoff Miller, the national selectors, said: "Both Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan have worked hard to regain fitness following elbow surgery and have demonstrated through their performances for their counties that they are ready for the challenge of international cricket."

The other players who were on the most recent tour but not required for the opening Test are Chris Woakes, James Tredwell and Monty Panesar, while Kevin Pietersen was ruled out of this series and the Champions Trophy earlier in the month.

As expected, Jonny Bairstow retains his place as Pietersen's replacement in the middle order, having been drafted in under tough circumstances in Auckland after just one first-class innings, against India in Mumbai, since last September. His twin failures were predictable, and understandable, but he has impressed at the start of this season for Yorkshire and has done enough to ward off his nearest challengers.

Bairstow will also have fond memories of Lord's, the scene of his Test debut against West Indies last year and also his most convincing Test performance, when he made 95 and 54 against South Africa after, again, being an understudy for Pietersen. His technique has, at times, been picked apart at Test level but that is a rite of passage for young player.

England needed a monumental final-day rearguard to escape New Zealand with a 0-0 draw - Matt Prior, Ian Bell and Broad being to the fore - and that indifferent performance in a series they were expected to dominate ensured there would be no resting or rotating of key players for this series despite it being at the start of a hectic season.

"We will need to improve significantly on our performances in the recent Test series against them if we are to start the international summer on a positive note," Miller said. "This series provides a good opportunity for the players to show that they have learnt from the experiences over the winter."

England squad Alastair Cook (capt), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, James Anderson, Tim Bresnan

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on May 15, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    @landl47/Si Baker - Agree that Finn maybe long term in our best bowling attack but does that mean he should continue in the side when he is out of form? Personally I thought he was really bad in NZ. I know (as with other strike bowlers) he has often been more expensive but he also looked less threatening. His average for that series was 39.2 which I think was flattering when you consider that in his 6 wicket hall 4 of the wickets were of the 7-11 in the line up. We kept underperforming players in the side since India (2011) on loyalty/past performance reasons and I feel it cost us. Surely guys like Onions and Woakes are better bets than Broad,Bres and Finn when they are injured or underperforming for any reason.

  • John on May 15, 2013, 2:41 GMT

    @Si Baker: Yes, slip of the typing finger there. I meant to say 22 wickets at 30. Given that four of those games were on the road and the other was against SA, I too would say those figures are acceptable.

    Finn is a big guy and takes a while to get his rhythm right. It was noticeable in the ODI series against India how much better he was bowling by the end of the series than at the beginning. Now back in England, he has to adjust again from the conditions in NZ- not that big of an adjustment, admittedly, but late summer conditions in NZ and early spring in England aren't the same. I fully expect Finn to start hitting his stride over the next few weeks and to be in good form for the Ashes.

  • Dummy4 on May 13, 2013, 2:43 GMT

    @Landl47: hate to correct you re Finn, but actually he's taken 22 wickets @29.95 in his last five Tests. Personally, I'd view that as perfectly acceptable - especially given the opposition - were it not for the fact that quite a few of those wickets came from long-hops or in scenarios when the batsmen were hitting out late in the opposition's innings. It's not just that, though: it's also the fact that, since he had to remodel his run-up following the Clattering Stumps controversy, he's tended to bowl rather too short in order, I suspect, to neutralise the fact that his new, shorter approach to the crease seems to have cost him a couple of yards in pace.

    Like many others I certainly see him as a long-term regular, but I really think it'd be best for all concerned were he to go back to county cricket for a few weeks in order to work out how best to recapture his old pace within the physical limitations imposed by that new run-up.

  • Dean on May 12, 2013, 14:18 GMT

    @carlp, I agree with you to a certain extent, although I am happy to see Bresnan return to some good form for Yorks following the elbow operation i'm not sure there was any need to rush him straight back in to the side. However in terms of Woakes, he has been in and around the Eng camp for the last few months & I thing the general consensus is that in terms of test cricket his bowling isn't strong enough to be the 3rd seamer. He does offer something with a bat but if he is to find his way in to the eng side it will need to be because of his bowling as I don't think there is much chance of eng playing a 5th bowler. In terms of Onions I would have had no problem with his selection as I think our pace bowling depth will be tested over the back 2 back ashes series & despite his fine FC stats I still think there are a lot of questions about him at tests level. However its Roland- Jones who I would have loved to have seen get his chance.

  • Michael on May 12, 2013, 12:09 GMT

    There is too much of an acceptance of balls sailing down the legside these days. Bowlers should not stray leg of leg and middle. Ten legside wides should result in being dropped not praised-Finn being the main culprit, though Anderson does it occasionally. Quick bowlers should be quick not medium unless conditions indicate. If the bowlers are ever in doubt they could watch South Africa's 635-2 dec. as a master class in how NOT to bowl. Batsmen need to turn the score over not scratch around like nervous chickens. And that is only three ways in which England need to look at themselves. Add in negating defensive fields unless absolutely essential and England may start to play better cricket. Continuity may be great BUT sometimes the threat of being dropped can work like a treat. Regarding players the best bowler in this season on TV looked like Roland-Jones. He uses his body a lot and maybe could do so more.

  • Dummy4 on May 12, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    Same old. Shame the selectors didn't view this series as an experimental testing-ground for the Ashes, but I suppose they (understandably) didn't want to take any risks against such a decidedly awkward side. Personally, I'd have gone for Woakes (FC batting average: 39) at Seven behind Prior at Six, slotted the more technically sound Taylor in ahead of Bairstow, & included Toby Roland-Jones & Reece Topley (left-arm swing: welcome variety) ahead of Bresnan & Finn (who's been bowling *way* too short for quite a while now), but I can see why, on this occasion, ultra-conservatism carried the day.

  • Nicholas on May 12, 2013, 10:28 GMT

    @landl47 (post on May 12, 2013, 6:37 GMT): I'm usually a firm believer in the old cliché "if something aint broke, don't meddle with it..." - but when a team (i.e. England) has, of late, struggled to take 20 wickets and hasn't looked like being able to do so for so long, I would say something is wrong/amiss. Now why are the selectors being so stubborn and filling in the gaps in the team with batsmen only? Why not at least TRY another bowler who can bat a bit, never mind a genuine all-rounder that I know is hard to come by? Why put so much pressure on 'so-called' front-line bowlers that, in some cases, are only returning from injury/surgery? I for one want something different by England, and the sooner the better.

  • John on May 12, 2013, 9:34 GMT

    @Si Baker on (May 12, 2013, 4:50 GMT)

    TBH , I don't see picking Bresnan and Finn above Woakes and Onions as "not taking any risks".

    Finn didn't look great in NZ and Bres didn't look good in most of 2012 and suddenly after a couple of good county matches he's back in. I'd say it's as big a risk picking a player who's been poor for the last year (on past performances combined with a couple of CC matches this season) above a guy who has been Mr Consistent with bat and ball for the last 12 months

  • John on May 12, 2013, 9:31 GMT

    @SamuelH - Totally agree with you there. As a Somerset fan it didn't affect us but I can only fully sympathise (in particular) with Bears fans. Obviously Chopra wasn't going to get a gig but you'd have thought Wright may have had an outside chance and Woakes (in a rational world) have a good chance. Not sure what you thought of Woakes vs Somerset but I thought he was by far the best Bears bowler on a flat pitch. Also Warwicks ordered ECB to rest Woakes for an early season game. Personally I think we overdo our resting players anyway but I'd have thought that would have indicated he was part of their plans. You know I want to see a 5/1/5 and by accommodating an extra bowler you could also see how Woakes or Onions measure up vs the regular pacers.

  • John on May 12, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    @Landl- Yeah , maybe I'm being a bit harsh on Finn and maybe I'm expecting too much from him due to the hype he seems to get , but having said that in NZ (which was his most recent test series) - Yes he took that 6 for but 4 of those wickets were of the tail and even with those figures his series stats weren't impressive. His pace seemed to be down and while often strike bowlers are not the most economical he prob looked the least threatening of our pacers. I know it's hard to judge on 1 performance but when Onions and Finn bowled together Onions took 4-88 and Finn 3-109. Re Bres , he had by and large a woeful 2012. Yes he may have been injured but then surely Eng selectors should be lambasted for playing a bowler whose form is affected by injury. It's not just a case of Eng bowling unit ripping through the opposition every time but in the last year or so our pacers have looked alot less penetrative

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