England v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, Group A, The Oval June 11, 2013

Tredwell makes case for promotion

Graeme Swann remains England's first-choice spinner but the stock of his deputy James Tredwell is rising

First it was Graeme Swann's elbow, now it is his back giving English cricket some sleepless nights. His performance in the second Test against New Zealand, at Headingley, highlighted, if any such reminder was needed, how he remains way ahead in England's Test pecking order. However, the same may not apply to the one-day side.

In the dead-rubber against New Zealand at Trent Bridge Swann was rested and then at Edgbaston - which was anything but a dead-rubber - he was ruled out shortly before the team sheets were exchanged, so late in the fray that he was listed to play. On both occasions his replacement played a crucial hand in victory; the first one a consolation, the next vital at the start of England's Champions Trophy campaign.

Step forward James Tredwell; the willing tourist, the expert drinks carrier, the hardworking net bowler. But he is far more than that, and now he is getting the chance to show it. The ball to remove Martin Guptill at Trent Bridge, through the gate, was a beauty (inside a Powerplay, too, it is worth remembering) and he then had Australia's top-order tied in knots. The four overs he bowled for eight runs tightened the tourniquet applied with the new ball and went a long way to securing victory. When he returned he was more expensive but Australia were so far behind.

Guptill a poor player of spin and Australia a poor top-order? Yes to both, but Tredwell also deserves more credit than that. He does not look out of place next to many of the other spinners on show at the Champions Trophy.

Having said that, if Swann is passed fit for England's second group match against Sri Lanka he will, in all likelihood, slot straight back into the team. But there is an argument to say, at the very least, it should not be an automatic decision. What? Drop Swann? It often feels like sacrilege to even suggest the idea.

Well, just digest these numbers: since January 2012, Swann has taken 13 wickets in 14 ODIs at 42.23, while Tredwell has bagged 22 scalps in 11 matches at 19.95. As bare figures they make a compelling case for Tredwell. If someone suffered selective amnesia and was the told to pick an offspinner, you wouldn't blame them for not choosing Swann.

But let's move away from making it a contest between the two and appreciate Tredwell. He has never been picked in a squad as first choice, always a reserve, yet he has rarely let England down when called in - sometimes, like at Edgbaston, with just a moment's notice. That's the value of experience built up over years on the domestic scene. Sometimes the demand for youth is not balanced with the need of the moment. Tredwell is the perfect understudy for England right now.

Neither are many of his outings just token appearances with nothing riding on them. Before the January 2012 cut-off for the previous statistic, he produced a match-winning spell of 4 for 48 at the 2011 World Cup against West Indies in just his fourth ODI. Against South Africa last year he took five wickets in three matches and then in India he claimed 11 at 18.18 (as a comparison, R Ashwin took seven wickets at 35.71) before Swann was immediately recalled for the one-dayers in New Zealand.

It is true that Tredwell's first-class figures this year are not flattering. In fact, he hasn't taken a red-ball wicket. In 102 overs, spread over five games. Not even a No. 11 slogging to long-on. Tredwell is not the dynamic longer-form bowler that Swann is and he will not have a long and fruitful Test career.

However if, in a worst case scenario, Swann is incapacitated at some point during the next 10 Tests matches, spread over two Ashes series, there is a strengthening case for Tredwell ahead of Monty Panesar. A few overs to Australia's left-handers and it's unlikely his season's wicket tally would stay at zero.

Again, while making comparisons across different formats is not entirely fair, the calmness and control of Tredwell, when thrust into a central role as he was at Edgbaston, is in marked contrast to how Panesar reacts when he is on his own, as opposed to in tandem with Swann.

The presence of Tredwell could also help Swann extend his Test career. Naturally, Swann wants to play at the 2015 World Cup - perhaps it will the finale to his career, if he makes it - but he does not have to play the vast number of ODIs between now then. There have already been signs over the last six months that Swann will be carefully handled through one-day cricket, much as Dale Steyn is for South Africa; a different style of player, obviously, but an equally valuable commodity to his team.

And the more Tredwell performs in his England shirt the more it is clear they have a perfectly able deputy.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Michael on June 12, 2013, 17:13 GMT

    There is a very interesting oair of stats here which show Tredwell up well. There is also the deeper issue of players not being physically able to cope with the workload. Both Swann and KP have had physical issues, as have Broad and Finn. I think the point is that players know their own bodies the best and though the doctors can make informed decision about players, the selectors and coach cannot. Swann has made statements re ODI's, and KP has retired once from them. Of course in KP's case many people thought it was about his ego and he was subjected to a whole range of abuse, strictures and humiliations from a range of sources simply because he knew his body best. He will never get apologies from various sources about his treatments and vilifications though the whole body thing came to a head in March this year. It is wise not to dig up the past but it is easy to see why ODI's put so much strain on physiques with all the training involved. Understudies therefore are crucial.

  • Shanmugam on June 12, 2013, 16:13 GMT

    @jmcilhinney, I have been advocating the idea of playing Tredwell instead of Swann in ODIs this year. Since the beginning of the English summer, we will be playing 12 tests (2 already played). Swann will have a big part to play in that and he is not getting younger. As good as Monty is, I don't expect him to bowl us to Ashes success. We should remember that his recent successes came only when he was operating along with Swann. He has not had much success when playing as the lone spinner. Swann is England's key player when it comes to securing the Ashes considering all the lefties in their team. Give Tredwell a go in LOIs. He has done pretty well.

  • Sriram on June 12, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    If Swann is not likely to play in next WC, and if he needs to be fully fit for Ashes then Tredwell plays. But I suppose they want to give swann as much match practise at this level albeit 50 overs prior to Ashes. Cant be any other reason as its not easy for him to play 10 Ashes test and then another year b4 playing in the WC.

  • John on June 12, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    @SamuelH on (June 12, 2013, 9:41 GMT) Not sure. I think if Swann or KP felt they were overdoing their cricket then the 50 over game would be the one to go , but I think both would love to be playing in all the bigger 50 over games.

    I do however wonder if Eng see Swann as a regular in 50 overs. It's a shame as he's our most consistent performer in shorter formats , but the one plus is that in Tredwell , you have a similar type of bowler who will also do a decent job more often than not. Not sure re Swann not searching for wickets. I think he still would be even if he's not taking so many wickets but if you're going at less than 4 an over in this format you're still likely to be happy with your day's work. Also , often the pressure built at one end can result in wickets falling at the other

  • John on June 12, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    Personally , I like both spinners and it's good that we have such a capable back up spinner in JT. I'd like to see them bowl in tandem for Eng in the shorter formats but I think that's a little too out of the box for the regimented ones. I think they may rotate the 2 or even continue with JT but to me that indicates more their policy of wrapping players in cotton wool than who is the better option. I'm sure if it was a do or die ODI they'd pick Swann.The guy is still IMO our best ODI player. In the last ODI he played vs NZ he went for runs but then at 6.1 it was still considerably less than the team RR and only Root (who only bowled 3 overs) had a better ER. In the 1st ODI his 10 overs had the best ER (as is so often the case) of 3.3. I still feel Eng are as much in danger of overresting players like Swann

  • Cyril on June 12, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    Two spinners is the right way forward. Tredwell for Bresnan please. The pitches will only turn more as the tournament progresses as they are playing on used pitches.

    There is no reason why England can't play two off spinners, after all they are using Root already.

    It should not be a contest between Swann and Tredwell, they should both be playing!

  • Dummy4 on June 12, 2013, 7:31 GMT

    landl47 - The name of the game is restricting runs, not taking wickets

    Surely taking wickets usually slows down the scoring? Take 10 of them and you stop the scoring completely.......

  • Dummy4 on June 12, 2013, 3:42 GMT

    I'm a great believer in playing your best bowlers (within reason), and sometimes Tredwell, who can also bat a bit, should be picked in front of a seamer. Engalnd's attitude does appear rather inflexible sometimes - although picking Bresnan in front of FInn worked well last time out. Might he have more value than Bopara? (Actually I have a lot of time for Ravi myself).