England v New Zealand, 1st Test, Lord's

Bresnan confident his bite is back

Andrew McGlashan

May 13, 2013

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A

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.

Tim Bresnan was in the wickets on his return to action, Durham v Yorkshire, County Championship, Division One, Chester-le-Street, 1st day, April 24, 2013
Tim Bresnan is hoping his early-season form for Yorkshire counts in his favour ahead of the first Test © Getty Images

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

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Posted by 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.

Posted by 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

Posted by 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

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by   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.

Posted by Mitty2 on (May 14, 2013, 11:48 GMT)

@jmcilhinney, do we ever!

I don't get it, as i'm sure everyone above has indicated, the english quicks (barring anderson) have been of sub-standard for a while and only get their form back in the helping conditions of may tests against minnow opposition in india (away friom home), sri lanka or thw West Indies. Bresnan: 210 runs per wicket in four tests, finn: more expensive than mitchell johnson, broad: a perennial underachiever with figures that are quickly climbing to ishant sharma standards. And even just on the basis of that new zealand tour, barring one innings from both of them against historically mediocre (see against everyone) batsman, they were incredibly innocuous.

If England ditched the duo of perpetual inconsistency in broad and finn, and put in the best of the county in TRJ, onions or harris (injured i think), or meaker, I can certainly give up on hope on the ashes, as no way, will attack featuring two of bresnan, finn and broad ever incite fear into any team (or fan).

Posted by Nutcutlet on (May 14, 2013, 10:42 GMT)

On this season's form, Bresnan should play ahead of Finn. Lord's has been kind to batsmen recently, so wickets will be hard earned. Thus, keeping things tight as a way of working through the batting suggests to me that TB has a realistic chance of playing ahead of his Middlesex team mate: Finn will always go for about 3.5 - 4 rpo, whereas Bres will keep his rpo at about 3. As @Shan156 suggests, with the 12 Test marathon about to get underway, it's highly likely that all five main frontline quicks (Jimmy, Broad, Finn, Bres, Onions) will be used in an informal rotation (i.e. reappraisal Test by Test) Swann is the only bowler likely to play all 12 if he remains fit. There's the rub!

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (May 14, 2013, 10:18 GMT)

Bresnan will play, dont worry about that. But he will need to do well against NZ to feature in the ashes as there are other options. I think he will feature in australia too, after all he has played two tests in australia & won them both by an innings & 150+ runs.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (May 14, 2013, 10:00 GMT)

@chicko1983 on (May 14, 2013, 7:30 GMT), and Australia need that batting ability from their bowlers.

Posted by JG2704 on (May 14, 2013, 8:28 GMT)

@SirViv1973 - For this series just stick to the 5 batsmen who were ever present in the NZ games - that's why I think it's an ideal time to try it out. Personally I still don't think Bell should be as nailed on as Trott or Cook but his 100 in the last test vs India and his knock vs NZ in the last test will no doubt keep him in the side until he retires. As put before since India 2011 we had a par series vs WI and probably an over par series in India (due to spinners).Vs SA/ NZ our pace attack has been found wanting at times and if an extra bowler makes the difference then I'm quite happy to drop an established batsman for it.Our established bats all let us down in the whole UAE series all bar KP in the SL series and most of the line up in the SA series so I don't feel anyone can feel too sorry for any batsman who makes way. Obviously 5/1/5 could be worse but how do we know til we try. 6 quality batsman going for 5 places adds to competition and maybe lessens complacency

Posted by chicko1983 on (May 14, 2013, 7:30 GMT)

Bresnan, Finn, Broad, Anderson v Siddle, Starc, Pattinson, Harris Advantage Australia in pace, swing and batting ability.

Posted by   on (May 14, 2013, 7:18 GMT)

And, yet again, Onions is overlooked. I wonder what he needs to do to get in the team ahead of players recovering from injuiries who may not be on top of their game yet. Maybe he's not buying enough pints for selectors after the game...

Posted by Harlequin. on (May 14, 2013, 7:09 GMT)

@64blip - he's a bustling bowler and he hits the gloves hard.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (May 14, 2013, 6:07 GMT)

@JG2704, We all know your preference for the 5/1/5, but given that Root is in such fine form & that Compton has pretty much done all that could have been asked of him over the winter (2 100s & ave of 40) assuming KP is fit for the start of the ashes I would be interested to know what batsman you would drop the accommodate the extra bowler?

Posted by Big_Maxy_Walker on (May 14, 2013, 4:35 GMT)

another reason for aussie fans to cringe and worry ahead of the ashes.

Posted by Shan156 on (May 14, 2013, 2:40 GMT)

@landl47, you may not be giving enough credit to Bres. there. He actually bowled very well in Aus. and at home against Ind. before he suffered that injury. He has never been the same since. But, if he is back to his 2010-2011 form, he should walk right back into the team. I agree that Finn is a good test bowler but, as you said, only when he is at his best. I was actually surprised that he picked up any wickets in NZ at all, leave alone 6 in an innings. He bowled *that* badly, yes. His early season form hasn't been very encouraging either. However, he is the incumbent and probably deserves another chance at his home ground. If he doesn't perform, then Bres. or Onions should be playing ahead of him. It is obvious that we cannot play the same 3 seamers over the next 12 tests. Why not take a look at some of the replacements now? Unless we are 3-0 up going into the 4th test, I don't see Jimmy getting a break. But, will he be fit enough to play all 12 tests?

Posted by landl47 on (May 14, 2013, 1:22 GMT)

I've always thought that Bresnan, extra '3 or 4 yards' (I wonder if people realize how big 4 yards difference in pace is? It's about 20%- so if Bres was bowling at an average of 75mph before his op, he'd be bowling at an AVERAGE of 90 mph now. Somehow I doubt it) or not, is a little below test class as a bowler and a lot below test class as a #7 batsman. Finn, when he's bowling at his best, is a good test bowler. Anderson is a very good test bowler and Broad has his moments, though he has been inconsistent. I don't think Bres replaces any of those 3 unless they are injured and he's not a good enough bat to play as a 4th seamer. Woakes is about 50% better as a batsman than Bresnan, but he's not a third seamer even as a replacement at the moment, so he only gets a game if England decides to go 5-1-5. With KP out, I can't see that happening, although with Pietersen back and Root in the form he's in now, it's a future possibility.

Practice carrying the drinks for the first test, Bres.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (May 14, 2013, 0:58 GMT)

@64blip on (May 13, 2013, 19:22 GMT), while I've heard some people try to explain that expression in different ways, as far as I'm concerned, it simply means that a bowler delivers the ball faster than their action suggests.

Posted by whoster on (May 13, 2013, 22:31 GMT)

If Bresnan actually is back to the bowler he was before the shoulder trouble, I'd have him straight back in the side - whether it was at the expense of Finn or Broad. Neither of those two have done enough to demand selection, and the selectors shouldn't be afraid to drop either. A fired-up Bresnan would be a big asset for England, especially as a positive influence in the dressing-room.

Posted by   on (May 13, 2013, 21:21 GMT)

I've always maintained that Bresnan, at his best, has an unquantifiable quality to his pace that cannot be measured by a speed gun. He has an ability to produce deliveries which surprise batsmen in their pace. I will also state that you do not need to be an out-and-out fast bowler to do this. Waqar was doing it even when he'd lost his extreme pace in his early 30s. Gough used to do it too. Anyone who only measures a fast bowler by the speed gun does not know the game properly.

Posted by JG2704 on (May 13, 2013, 20:30 GMT)

@ Shan156 on (May 13, 2013, 17:36 GMT) Not often I disagree with your posts but I want to see Swann playing. He's had the op , it's been rested and sometimes (often IMO in Eng's case) we overdo the resting to the point where we are undercooked. Bearing in mind how (over)cautious our management is these days re resting players , I think they are very confident in Swann being ok. I saw part of a Notts YB40 match the other day and Swann dropped a catch where he jumped/dived. They were talking about the drop but my 1st worry was if he was ok after landing heavily but he obviously suffered no reaction. We both agree on the 5/1/5 I think - but I'd like to see it more now because our 3 man pace bowling attack has not looked good for a while (in India it was mainly our spinners on spinning pitches) and also we could see how Woakes goes in comparison with Bres or maybe Onions in comparison with Finn on similar pitches

Posted by JG2704 on (May 13, 2013, 20:21 GMT)

I still would have preferred Woakes to have been given his chance but I hope Bres (if playing) does well. In past threads I have been critical of Eng picking out of form/injured players and included have been Bresnan and Broad and more recently Finn. I'm happy with them picking an in form Bres,Broad,Finn over the likes of Woakes and Onions but what I don't want to happen is our attack being compromised by picking players out of loyalty as I felt happened and cost us in parts of the last year or so. Same with any batsmen too

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (May 13, 2013, 19:38 GMT)

Delighted to know that Bresnan is properly fit again.Though he does not have a great record at Lords he might be a better bet for the second innings at Lords when the pitch flattens out. Finn needs to curb his predilection for spraying the ball around down the legsiide. test bowlers do not bowl like that,and if you've got it(pace,that ii) flaunt it big time.

Posted by 64blip on (May 13, 2013, 19:22 GMT)

@ Andy P. He probably 'bowls a heavy ball' too.

Posted by   on (May 13, 2013, 18:55 GMT)

It's such a wonderfully non-specific term, the mystical yard of pace. The bowler with the yard of pace bowling in the corridor of uncertainty, thumbing his nose at accurate measurements...

Posted by Shan156 on (May 13, 2013, 18:44 GMT)

@Ross Lawson, yes, Bres should get a game at his home ground. Surely he would if Finn doesn't impress at his home ground?

Posted by   on (May 13, 2013, 18:12 GMT)

@Shan156 - totally agree with you re Swann, but the selectors are scared to be accused of 'underestimating' NZ. Bresnan has been superb this year, but I feel they'll stick with Finn for Lords at least, but I reckon Bresnan would get more out of his home turf in Leeds.

Posted by Shan156 on (May 13, 2013, 17:36 GMT)

Whatever he does, I hope big Tim doesn't injure Cook in the nets. With KP sidelined, it is important that Cook is fully fit and firing for this series. Many still consider the NZ series as an appetizer to the main event later in the summer but I feel NZ are quite a good team as they showed in the series in NZ. England will have to be at their best to beat them.

I wish they had rested Swann though. It is the early part of the English summer and Swann would not be as big a factor as he would be in July/August. Considering his elbow, he should have been given an extended rest and I think they should have played Tredwell. Would Bres make it to the XI ahead of Finn or Broad? I doubt it but I think he should make it, perhaps ahead of Finn. Early season county form points to Bresnan but would England make that change? Fingers crossed but most likely they will stick to Jimmy, Broad, Finn, and Swann.

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Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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