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Resurgent Tremlett ready for England

Sahil Dutta

August 10, 2010

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Chris Tremlett took three wickets in an impressive opening spell for Surrey, Surrey v Sussex, County Championship, Division Two, Guildford, August 9, 2009
Chris Tremlett has been in impressive form for Surrey this year © PA Photos
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Players/Officials: Stuart Broad | Steven Finn | Chris Tremlett
Teams: England | Surrey

Chris Tremlett prepared for his 100th first-class match knowing that, after playing the last of his three Tests three years ago, he was still a long way from an international recall. Of all of England's well-stocked reserves, the fast-bowling ranks are the most crowded but, after a long period of injuries, near-misses on one-day selection and most recently a change of county from Hampshire to Surrey, Tremlett says he has emerged a stronger bowler and stronger character, ready to rejoin the fold at the highest level.

His performances this season, capped by bursting through Sussex's top order with three wickets in his first two overs on Monday, suggest he might just be right. After missing the start to the season he has led Surrey's attack, sending down almost 240 overs to pick up 29 wickets at 21.13 in the Championship and the England management is known to have taken note.

"I'm feeling very strong right now, the body is feeling good and I'm probably the fittest I've ever been," he told Cricinfo. "I think the injury days are behind me, the change of club has brought a change of luck. I've bowled a lot of overs but I feel very fresh whereas in previous years by this time it's been a battle to get through and I've picked up injuries, so hopefully I can keep bowling lots of overs, keep taking wickets and keep winning games for Surrey."

A hulking figure at 6'7" with a strong and tall action, Tremlett ticks every box a fast bowler should. During his three Tests in 2007 he roughed up the vaunted Indian line-up, and showed enough to suggest he could have been a fixture in an England side that was desperately looking to move on from the 2005 generation. Back then he was keeping Stuart Broad out of the team but, three years on, it's Broad who's established England's transformation and Tremlett has also watched Steven Finn, whose attributes so closely mirror his own, leapfrog him into the national side. Tremlett, however, sees no reason why he can't line up alongside those two.

"I can see a role for myself in the England side. I am similar in a way to Finny and Broady in terms of height and pace and I can bat a bit as well. If [England] want another bowler with pace and bounce that's what I offer and I'm bowling well. I've stayed fit and done what I've been asked to in the past so I have no doubt I could go and perform."

The comparison with Broad is telling. While their physiques may match, their psyches could not seem further apart. Throughout Broad's career he has walked a fine line between healthy aggression and outright petulance - a line he so clumsily crossed at Edgbaston - while Tremlett, on the other hand, has been held back by an apparent lack of fire. A hangdog expression and an infuriating reluctance to impose himself on the opposition has left an impression that he does not have the heart for a fight. It's a charge he rejects entirely and puts more down to lazy stereotyping than any underlying truth.

"Some of the things that people have said about me in the past have been complete rubbish. I don't think the people who made these criticisms actually know me at all - they have no idea about my personality and what drives me," he said. "If I didn't have the heart or the drive I wouldn't have moved to Surrey, I wouldn't have fought back from injury after injury, and I wouldn't be in the position I am now - bowling well and taking wickets."

Despite his annoyance with the 'soft touch' label, he acknowledges he has come across diffident at times and has spoken in the past of the need to add some devil to his on-field persona. Now 28, he feels more comfortable in himself and says that an aggression has come out of experience and confidence in his bowling.

"I guess when I was younger I was a bit timid but, with age, now naturally I am more aggressive. I'm not working on my body language any more, the older I've got the more experienced I've got, and the more confident I've become. I'm not over the top or anything, I don't think I ever will be, it's not who I am and it's not the type of bowler I am. But I let batsmen know I'm there, let them know I'm bowling well and let the ball do the rest.

"I'm definitely a better bowler now to where I was when I last played for England. The wicket at The Oval has been very flat and it's forced me into becoming a better bowler - I've had to think a lot about how I'm bowling and that experience has helped me be more naturally aggressive."

It is an important point. Long gone are the days when fast bowlers queued up at The Oval expecting the kind of pace and carry that propelled Devon Malcolm to his nine-wicket destruction of South Africa 16 years ago. Much like its Australian equivalent at Perth, the pitch is a much more soporific affair now as England may well find out next week. The lingering suspicion, all the more apparent after Pakistan's third-day resistance at Edgbaston, is that the gloss on England's attack fades when the sun shines. Finding ways to succeed in unfavourable conditions is a pressing concern for the Ashes in particular and Tremlett feels his Oval experience gives him the ingredients to succeed.

"The Oval pitches have been very slow and low this year. Luckily for me my body is feeling good so I've bowled quicker this year but I've had to learn to bowl better areas. I now back myself to go at under three an over and take wickets on flat decks. My action is more solid so I think I've got what it takes for Australia - I've played Test cricket, I'm a good bowler and can offer pace and bounce on any track."

Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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Posted by manasvi_lingam on (August 13, 2010, 3:03 GMT)

There are far too many bowlers waiting for an opportunity - Broad, Anderson and Finn are the frontrunners. Apart from them you have Onions, Sidebottom, Shahzad, Bresnan, etc.

Posted by george204 on (August 11, 2010, 11:57 GMT)

I disagree that Finn's attributes "closely mirror" Tremlett's: Tremlett is clearly faster & stronger. He doesn't fall over like Bambi in his follow through either, but on a negative note he's clearly a much heavier build so he probably hits the ground a lot harder which may account for his many injuries. It would be really good if he made it back into England reckoning...

Posted by asillypoint on (August 11, 2010, 10:01 GMT)

Just take him, where is the downside? England's approach has, for some time, been for tall bowlers with bounce. So, what if Finn is injured or Broad suspended / out of form? Then it's all a bit too late. The cost of taking an extra back-up bowler would be well worth it. I would have to concur with Mamimum6, Tremlett is a more likely match winner than Bresnan. We should all chip in to finance his trip. Chris, if you're reading this, you're welcome to stay in my place in Sydney (about 5 minutes walk from the SCG).

Posted by Trickstar on (August 11, 2010, 1:16 GMT)

Tremlett has always had the tools to be a really good international player,but injuries have sidelined him when he was just finding his feet.If he can keep fit he definitely needs to be there as part of the squad.He's got the speed,height and length that could really cause some damage down in Oz.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (August 10, 2010, 22:45 GMT)

Tremlett is custom-built for Australia. Of all the grounds in the country at present, the Oval is the best test of a fast bowler's stamina, the most 'Australian' of English pitches. As he gets wickets regularly there, then the English selectors should take note, if they aren't already. If he doesn't get the nod for the original party, then he should definitely be on stand-by. Incidentally, I think that he is unlikely to demonstrate the boorish behaviour of Broad, who, in my opinion, is acting like a spoilt child on occasions.

Posted by Chris_P on (August 10, 2010, 22:25 GMT)

I first started taking an interest in his performances after Shane Warne talked him up when he was his country captain. Warney was very enthusiastic about his qualities and his nous of the game and players would suggest he knew what he was talking about. Warne did mention that he thought he would be a better bowler in Australian conditions, so it will be an interesting few months to see if the English selectors take bowlers more suited to Australian cionditions or fall back to their old policy of taking bowlers who bowl well only in heavy English type conditions and become cannon fodder in Australia. Good luck in his development.

Posted by   on (August 10, 2010, 19:28 GMT)

he should go, i watched the cb40 gane on sky the other day he was bowling 92mph with a consistant line and length, he has been great for us since arriving at the oval.

Posted by   on (August 10, 2010, 16:46 GMT)

It would be great to see Tremlett back in an England shirt. (Or out of an England shirt, a single bead of sweat tracing its way down his lithe, muscular frame, a mischevous grin on creasing his boyish features. But I digress.)

As Sidebottom, Onions, Siddle and Lee - to name but a few - have shown recently, injured fast bowlers can take ages to get fit again. So the deeper the pool of talent available to England, the better.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (August 10, 2010, 16:19 GMT)

A rather better pick than Bresnan would be, he seems to have found a real cutting edge.

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Sahil Dutta Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.
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