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October 11, 2013
Chris Tremlett has admitted the Ashes tour presents a "now or never" opportunity for him in international cricket.
Tremlett, the 32-year-old fast bowler, has been named in the touring squad despite a modest season in domestic cricket and knows that, if he is ever to establish himself back in the England side, it will have to be on this tour to Australia where the pitches are expected to suit his height and skills.
Tremlett was a key member of the England side that retained the Ashes on their last tour to Australia in 2010-11, using his attributes to great effect in claiming 17 wickets in three Tests at an average of just 23.35. But, only a year later, he was forced home from England's tour of UAE through injury.
After undergoing two bouts of surgery, has won a recall not so much for his record in county cricket - Tremlett's 32 Championship wickets in 2013 cost 33.03 a piece - but on the basis of his performance on Australian pitches three years ago and his potential to recover such form. He knows he is likely to win few further opportunities to justify the selectors' faith in him.
"I am not getting any younger," Tremlett said. "So this might be my last chance. I do view it as a now or never situation.
"If I get another injury that might be it. It would be hard to go through what I've gone through again. If I got another stress fracture or if my back went again I am not sure I could go through another year of rehab. I've done enough rehab in my career."
Tremlett has been written-off before. Ahead of the 2010-11 Ashes, there were those who claimed he lacked the heart for the pressure of the big stage and suggestion that he was diffident or even lazy. He admits that proving the doubters wrong is a motivational tool.
"There are always people that talk about my injuries and say I don't care enough or I don't want it enough," Tremlett said. "That's another thing that motivates me. It's always nice to come back and prove certain people wrong. It something I get a bit of a buzz from: proving people wrong. People say you're not good enough, and you come back and perform. That's motivation in itself to do well and to keep working hard. All those things keep you going."
While Tremlett may not owe his selection to performance at county level, there is nothing new in that. He believes that it was a net session in 2010, just a few weeks before the Ashes tour, when he made the vital impression on David Saker, the England bowling coach. It may well have been the same this time.
"My numbers might not be amazing this year," Tremlett said, "but it's not always just about stats. I know that is what generally people go on, but it's about how you are bowling as well.
"In the last two months of the season, I felt I was bowling near to my best. At the start of the season, I found it pretty tough finding my feet again. It's not been easy to get back and anyone will tell you, the pitches at The Oval have offered nothing to tall fast bowlers. I'm not making excuses, but the ball doesn't really bounce. Even when we've played away, we've played on some very flat pitches.
"In terms of pace, there were days when I was getting up there. I don't think I've ever really found 90mph, I would say my average speed is probably around 85mph on a good day, pushing high-80s.
"But the England team management were in touch reasonably early. That was good in itself, to know they were still thinking about me. Then they asked me to go and train at Lord's and bowl at the guys in the nets. I bowled pretty well. My numbers might not be amazing this year, but I certainly feel that I've progressed during the season after a torrid time with injury.
"When I go back to 2010, David Saker asked me to have a net here at The Oval just to have a look at me. That was my chance to really impress him. That net got me on the Ashes tour last time. It was about six weeks before the tour. Kevin Pietersen was having a bat and Saker wanted to see me bowl as he hadn't seen me before. I'm pretty sure that was the moment he saw something in me. People didn't think I would be picked but I was picked ahead of Ajmal Shahzad, who I think was originally going to go.
"Saker is someone who has always seen something in me, he's always backed me every time I've been in the England side and he knows what I can do. He knows it's not just about my height. He knows the skills I have as well."
Now Tremlett hopes that Australia, in their desire to negate the spin of Graeme Swann, will prepare wickets to suit pace bowlers. And if they do, he hopes it will "play into our hands" as he puts it.
"Obviously, they're worried about the ball spinning for Graeme Swann, as he is such a big weapon for the England side," Tremlett said. "So that might play into our hands. Any tall bowler wants bounce and carry in the wicket and we've got Stuart Broad, myself, Steven Finn and Boyd Rankin.
"I did well there last time, which is I'm sure one of the reasons I'm going again. I've been to Australia a few times, and I know how to take wickets over there. It's taking my experience over there and trying to replicate what I did three years ago. I was delighted to get the call and hopefully I can repay the selectors' faith by playing well and taking wickets again."
Chris Tremlett was supporting the Chance to Shine Annual Awards. Chance to Shine is keeping cricket alive in schools and just £15 pays for a year's coaching for one child. Donate atchancetoshine.org
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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