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World Cup 2011

'Expressive' Dernbach hopes to enliven England

Sidharth Monga in Colombo

March 22, 2011

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Jade Dernbach, England's latest squad member, strains to impress during practice, Colombo, March 22, 2011
Jade Dernbach, England's latest squad member, strains to impress during practice in Colombo © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Jade Dernbach
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Teams: England

"There's been a lot of talk about it," says Jade Dernbach, England's newest squad member, of his slower deliveries. He joined the team last night, all tattooed, and armed with the slower balls, reverse-swing and an "expressive" character that could well bring the freshness a team that has been on the road for six months needs.

The first thing that strikes you about Dernbach, though, is not the tattoos (more than Mitchell Johnson), not his first name (he knows only females named Jade) or his South African origin, but the confidence he is carrying after his performances with the Lions in the West Indies - where he took 19 wickets at 15.63 from five games - and a couple of good years with Surrey.

"There's been a lot of talk about it, you know, it's worked for me," he says. "It took a lot of time, a lot of practice getting it right, but now it is one of my weapons. One of many, I'd like to think. You know it's just one of those things that I have developed over the years, and I am happy to have in my armoury." Like spinners talking about mystery balls, he leaves the nature of the slower balls suitably under wraps. Ask him if he bowls it out of the front of the hand or back, and Dernbach says, "I've got a few. Depends on which one you are referring to. You have to have those nowadays the way one-day cricket is going. You have to have that sort of variety. Can't be just a one-trick pony anymore."

Dernbach likes to talk about reverse-swing too, which on slow and low tracks in this World Cup can be a big asset. "That I'd like to think is one of my biggest strengths," he says. "Obviously I had the opportunity to utilise that in the West Indies. It's been great to have been out there for the last seven weeks or so, then getting a call out here, and hopefully I can show my skills if I get an opportunity."

Dernbach was born in Johannesburg, studied a bit in Durban before his family moved to England when he was 14. He doesn't owe his cricketing career, he says, to South Africa at all. "South Africa's not my home at all," he says. "I don't owe anything to South Africa. I was just born there, did a bit of schooling there, my whole cricket career has been based in the UK, and UK is my home. I want to give everything I can to England cricket, that's the country I love and that's the country that has given me everything I have now." If you want to read into it, while saying this, his hand went and tapped the three-lion crest on his shirt.

Dernbach wasn't a serious cricketer until two or three years after he moved to England. "When I came over to the UK, that was when I really started playing cricket. I was more of a rugby player, to be honest, before that. Sort of happened by chance, cricket. Played for a local side, and then ended up getting a chance for Surrey. Started with Under-15s, then made my way up through the age groups. It was all a bit of fun for me to being with. It was not until my second year in Under-17s that I realised there was a really good opportunity to make this a career. So yeah, happened by chance really."

It's the lighter side of the things that an over-worked side will not mind at all. He says he is an expressive character, "and hopefully I can add to that [the team atmosphere], bring my energy and stuff I am coming with". One of the ways he expresses himself is the body ink. Almost whole of his right arm is tattooed, a bit of left, and "I have got a couple under wraps".

"It's something I am interested in. Quite an expressive sort of character. Just an extension of my personality, I'd like to think. There is a lot going on here [the arms]. There is a bit of everything. I have got some Chinese writing, which is my name, with strength and power. I have got some more. I have got my birth fish. Good luck as well. Bit of everything. 'What counts is not the years in your life, but the life in your years.'"

He is asked to compare his body art with Mitchell Johnson's. "I had one before his," he says. "So I'd say he was copying me, but I don't think he knows who I am."

You get a sense he wants to play in this tournament, not just hopes to do so. "I can't think of anything better, to be honest," he says of a possible debut in a pressure game. "My first Twenty20 for Surrey was the semi-final at the Oval. Packed house. Thoroughly enjoyed that. Any opportunity you get to play for your country, you grab with both hands. If I get the nod to play on Saturday, I'll give it my all. Fingers crossed, I do get picked."

Does he think he will be picked? "I have got as good a chance as any as long as I prepare properly. The most important thing is that we win. That's whether I play or not. To me that's the most important thing."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 18 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 25, 2011, 21:31 GMT)

I really dont care if he plays or not....Anderson should play....you ant drop Match Winners..Look a the deliveries that got AB devilieras and JPD..>he won you the Ashes too...Infact even times he did not get wickets in Ashes...it helped others to feed of his spells..PLay Anderson..Drop Trmlett...I think Strass, Bell, Trott, Bopara, Morgan, Bresnan, Swann, Anderson, Tredwell, Prior, Andeson....Commno England... :-)

Posted by Mark on (March 23, 2011, 22:28 GMT)

strauss and prior had english parents, thats 2 i dont care what you say about them, they're english, collingwood, shahzad, swann, anderson, broad, bopara, bresnan, finn, yardy, tredwell, bell, cook, plunkett, wright have all been in the england team recently... thats 16 'original englishmen' so far botlu, enough? couple that with dernbach and morgan who learnt their cricket in england... hows that? these comments are old and redundant, he wants to represent england like KP, morgs and trott do. Trott is really the only dubious player but tbh if he isn't going to get a chance to play for south africa why the hell should he be excluded from international cricket? he is an incredible batsmen. Would get into most international sides easily.

Posted by Richard on (March 23, 2011, 9:20 GMT)

I know he says he's not South African and that, and I believe him, and he didn't play cricket in South Africa but one of these days we are gonna have to put a lid on the number of South African born players in the team, its starting to look ridiculous! But then again, if he has a British passport, "feels" English and wants to have a go whats the point worrying about?!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 8:18 GMT)

I think that some of the people that say that England's team is made up of players from different countries are completely wrong, after all why should players who have spent their whole life in English Cricket but born somewhere else not be considered English playing for England, afterall wasn't it the great Duke of Wellington that said, "Being born in a stable does not make one a horse", in relation to references to his Irish ancestry and the fact he was born in Dublin.

Posted by V.L on (March 23, 2011, 4:33 GMT)

Another South-African import. May be they should import Dale Steyn!

Posted by Manesh on (March 23, 2011, 3:44 GMT)

Thanks SL for hosting the game...see you in next WC. bye bye....

Posted by dilan on (March 23, 2011, 3:12 GMT)

The English team is more like an IPL team there are 4 foreigners and the rest are English...LOL

Posted by John on (March 23, 2011, 3:10 GMT)

Well he's got the perfect start to his career. All of England's most successful cricketers have been born in South Africa. Bodes well for this bloke too.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 3:00 GMT)

Don't leave him as 12th man, throw him into the Lion's den with all the other South Africans playing for England.

Posted by Jan on (March 23, 2011, 1:17 GMT)

Criss Tremlett was great in the Ashes series in Australia but made little impression in his recent game - would seem like a good option to play this young Jade Dernbach in the quarter finals in his place. I for one would like to see if he is able to shake up the other side. Good to see new blood coming through - Good luck to him.

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