Bresnan learns from tough beginning
Tim Bresnan is ready to banish the memories of his first spell in international cricket if he is handed a Test debut against West Indies at Lord's. He endured a harrowing experience at the hands of Sri Lanka in 2006, but believes he has emerged a better and stronger player.
Bresnan was plucked out of county cricket as a 21-year-old by Duncan Fletcher and thrown in against the powerful Sri Lanka top-order. He began promisingly enough in the first one-day international at Lord's with 1 for 44 off nine overs, but life became progressively harder after that. In the final match of the series, as England slumped to a 5-0 whitewash, he was carted for 29 off two overs on his home ground at Headingley.
"The first time I played I was picked more on potential than performance and last year was probably the first time I thought that I'm ready for this," Bresnan said. "My game has been going from strength to strength ever since then and I believe I'm ready now."
Bresnan didn't feature in any of the England squads over the winter, instead working on his fitness, and is now reaping the benefits of being able to bowl on fresh legs "for the first time in about six years". His early-season call to play for MCC against Durham at Lord's showed he was clearly in the selectors' thoughts and Bresnan sensed he was getting closer.
"I knew they were watching, you see the selectors knocking around early in the season and I had an indication from Martyn Moxon who said I was close and the next thing I pick the phone up and it's Geoff Miller saying I'm in."
He admits his first experience probably came too soon, but he wasn't the only one to suffer at the hands of Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga. At Headingley, Steve Harmison went for 97 off his 10 overs and Kabir Ali a horrific 72 from six. Kabir hasn't played for England since, so Bresnan's copybook clearly wasn't terminally blotted by his experience.
"I was blown away by it to be honest," Bresnan said about tasting international cricket. "It wasn't just me it got the better of, Jayasuriya took everyone apart. I took a lot away from the series, worked on bowling at left handers, and took confidence out of the fact that it wasn't just me. They took Harmy down, Kabir Ali, Saj [Mahmood]."
Bresnan went back into county cricket, humbled by his experience but not humiliated. He now knew what it took to play at the highest level. Last season was his best as he finished with 45 Championship wickets at 28.40. "I've been improving for the last four years," he said. "I got thrown into county cricket quite early as a 16-17 year old. If you look at my career stats they don't look that good, but in the last three years I've been on the up and up."
In his favour he has been involved with a Yorkshire dressing full of seam-bowling know-how. Matthew Hoggard has been a regular source of advice, as was Darren Gough when he returned to captain the club. "When you can have a sensible conversation with him [Matthew Hoggard] and get him one-to-one he's brilliant for things like that," Bresnan said. "Last year Goughy was quality, he's good to have a drink in the bar with telling us how good he was."
However, Bresnan's greatest source of advice wasn't a fellow Englishman. "The one for me a couple of years ago was Jason Gillespie, he was fantastic. I spent time just chatting with him often over dinner or in the bar," he said of the former Australian quick who played for Yorkshire in 2006 and 2007. "He was an ultimate professional and often he was too good for the batsmen."
But if he gets the chance to step out at Lord's on Wednesday, Bresnan won't be overcomplicating the game with too much advice swirling around his head. "I just try to be my own person and my own player and hopefully that will be the style that brings the goods."
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo