India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 3rd day

Summit in sight but Bresnan running out of puff

England will probably need to bat four sessions to secure a series win but their cause has not been helped by Tim Bresnan's continued poor form

George Dobell in Nagpur

December 15, 2012

Comments: 46 | Text size: A | A

Tim Bresnan claimed two wickets but England could not force victory, Haryana v England XI, Ahmedabad, 4th day, November 11, 2012
Tim Bresnan has suffered a pronounced dip in form since undergoing elbow surgery © AFP

Although England fought back in the final hour in Nagpur to take four India wickets and regain some control of a Test they need only draw to ensure a series win, their bowling attack, not for the first time recently, appeared to be a man short during the 198-run association between MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli.

Tim Bresnan, England's second seamer, endured a chastening day. Perhaps it is harsh to judge a man by his performance on such a track - this remains a desperately poor Test wicket - but it was hard to avoid the conclusion that Bresnan no longer looks like an effective performer at this level. It was not just that he lacked pace - that is not a huge issue on this surface - but that he drifted on to the batsmen's legs or pitched short noticeably more often than any of his colleagues.

Thirteen months ago, Bresnan looked to be at the start of a long international career after producing valuable performances in the Ashes and against India. England won the first 13 Tests in which he played and, at that stage, he possessed a Test bowling average of 25.46 and a Test batting average of 40.22.

But an an elbow injury necessitated surgery in December 2011 and, despite his best efforts, he has been unable to recover that bit of nip that made him such a valuable member of the side. Since his return he averages 55.43 with the ball and, since the start of the series with South Africa, that rises to an eye-watering 210 runs per wicket. Perhaps due to diminishing confidence, his batting has also fallen away and, in 2012, he is averaging just 17.14.

It is hard to understand what he did between Ahmedabad and Nagpur that justified his recall. While Steven Finn and Stuart Broad are absent with injuries, Graham Onions, in particular, must wonder why he was brought on the tour. There were also other options with the England Performance Programme - Stuart Meaker, in particular - who could easily have been called up. There is a great deal of affection and respect towards Bresnan in the England camp but it is becoming hard to ignore his dip in form.

Bresnan may still have a role to play with the bat in this game. While India did not start the day in a great position, Virat Kohli and MS Dohni played the hand they were dealt perfectly. The fact that both demonstrated the discipline to reign in their natural, aggressive game was testament to their dedication and maturity and while Dhoni may be disappointed not to reach his century, his sadness should be more than assuaged by the knowledge that he has revived his side's chances of squaring the series.

If England do hold on, or even win, it may prove once again that their superior fitness and fielding made the difference. Alastair Cook's direct hit to run-out Dhoni was another example of the difference between the sides: England have now conjured three crucial run-outs in India's last three innings.

Ultimately England will probably have to bat for four sessions to ensure they win the series. It should not prove beyond them on this pitch. But it should not have proved beyond them to save the Test at The Oval on a flat track or win the Test at Abu Dhabi when chasing a small total. Remember the wobble in Kolkata, too.

One thing is certain, though: when they set off for this tour almost two months ago, they would have jumped at the chance to bat four sessions to win the series. They are in sight of the summit, but have one last, tough climb ahead.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by A_Vacant_Slip on (December 17, 2012, 6:35 GMT)

@Shanmuga Subramanian on (December 16 2012, 03:29 AM GMT). You talk in your comment... "A English writer imagining that batting 3 or 4 sessions would be easy for England :D..Come day 4..and you will see how England fall like 9 pins".. Well @Shanmuga Subramanian now that England have reached 240/3 at lunch on day 5 having batted 3 1/2 sessions losing only 3 wicket - how did you feel about your prediction now. Time for people like you to pipe down. "fall like 9 pins"....LOL

Posted by VivSingh on (December 16, 2012, 13:26 GMT)

@ Jose Puliampatta: a good idea in principle but judging by how Sehwag looked while he was fielding in the slip, I think he wasn't tried because he probably didn't have enough energy to walk up to the bowling crease, let alone release a delivery. Old and tired-looking. India needs a new breed of player.

Posted by notvery on (December 16, 2012, 12:55 GMT)

bresnan is an honest trier? hes a bit more than that. prior to Finn he was the paciest of the england bowlers on many occasions. also as the third seamer, generally, he has the happy knack of taking the crucial wickets very very often. his batting i think is over ratted as some have said. at 27 he needs a few county games to get his body back in cricket shape then have another look at him. i think he was pulled back in a bit early. i think onions should be given a run but then again there is a lot of bodies that could be picked for england bowling duties around about now. as far as allrounders go well why search for something that isnt there! 6 top bats and 4 top bowlers and a keeper that can average near a batsman will win most games.

Posted by Nerk on (December 16, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

Bresnan is still a young fellow, so how people can be declaring his career over is beyond me. He is a good player, and good potential as a bowling all-rounder. His recent performances have been disappointing, and the best England can do is drop him for the time being and allow him to find his feet at 1st class level before putting him back in the test team. Remember, very few players return from surgery without missing a beat. Even a legend like Shane Warne took a while to return to his best after his major operations.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (December 16, 2012, 8:39 GMT)

@si baker, I'm sorry Morgan is Not a test player, hes far too loose outside the offstump, and ver weeak against the moving ball which he'll face in spades in NZ. tremlett isnt match fit as hes not played all season, Woakes might do well, and I agree about root, Taylor and Bairstow and I think Bell will get a tour off as he I believe he was supposed to be rotated out against india this year, but with the KP chaos was drafted back.

Posted by FreddyForPrimeMinister on (December 16, 2012, 8:10 GMT)

@Shanmuga Subramanian on (December 16 2012, 03:29 AM GMT) - are you being serious?? I hoped this idiotic prejudice had pretty much melted away since England have taken control of the series by the scruff of the neck but it seems not. Had it not been for umpire Dharmasena's two dreadful decisions to saw off Alastair Cook in both innings, the series would have been as good as over by now. Hopefully England can go on to win it 3-1 so we can put the anti-English comments to bed once and for all and get back to genuine, thoughtful and unbiased comments from supporters of all sides. (Please print, cricinfo!)

Posted by   on (December 16, 2012, 7:26 GMT)

For all his heart, Bresnan's a busted flush, I'm afraid. Time to give him, Broad, Trott, Bell & Patel a rest during the New Zealand tour, & take Morgan, Bairstow, Taylor, Root, Meaker, Woakes & Tremlett (if fit) or Onions instead. I'd like to see Joe Root tried as an opener in NZ, with Nick Compton slotting in at Three - which is where he customarily bats for Somerset - & Chris Woakes as a genuine all-rounder at Six or Seven in a five-man attack.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2012, 7:09 GMT)

Cook 1 runs on 52 balls. I hope end of the test cricket is near.

Posted by rohanbala on (December 16, 2012, 5:06 GMT)

Tim Bresnan is the weakest link in the current english line up. His bowling looks mediocre and his batting not any better than a No.11 batsman. The decision to leave out the remaining fit players is perplexing. Similarly, on a tour to India under the captaincy of Graham Gooch, their best batsman Mike Atherton was not considered for selection in any test in the series.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2012, 3:29 GMT)

A English writer imagining that batting 3 or 4 sessions would be easy for England :D..Come day 4..and you will see how England fall like 9 pins..

Posted by jmcilhinney on (December 16, 2012, 2:17 GMT)

Bresnan has performed well on numerous occasions for England but, since his surgery, he hasn't looked the same player and, quite frankly, hasn't looked like becoming the same player. I really hope, for his and England's sake, that he can get back to his best but it really is time for the selectors to put him out of their minds until he has shown that he has regained what has obviously been lost. It's hard to imagine that he's really showed great improvement in practice but the fact that he was selected again suggests that his omission after the first Test was really just to make way for Monty rather than a reaction to what was a poor performance. The fact that Broad was dropped shows that the selectors can make the hard decisions but maybe they are limited to one per series. Also, I guess they have more confidence in Finn to do better than they do Onions.

Posted by cloudmess on (December 16, 2012, 0:48 GMT)

I don't agree Bresnan has always been ineffective for England. I was more impressed with his bowling than his batting in 2011, he looked pacey and accurate, and really had the batsmen hopping around. Sadly, it seems his elbow surgery has drawn the sting out of his bowling. His batting and bowling averages of 40 and 25 after his first 13 tests were no fluke at the time.

Posted by   on (December 16, 2012, 0:40 GMT)

@RodStark . Agree. Wonder, why guys like KP & Sehwag are not being tried by their captains, at least when huge partnership are building up.

Posted by bonobo on (December 16, 2012, 0:34 GMT)

Dobell has a bad habit of retirnig players. The idea that a talented 26 year old like Brsenan, wont play test cricket again is daft. But it is true, he has lost a crucial 5 yards since his injury and it puts pressure on the rest of his game. Its something similar with Broad. This is somethiung i find strange, I completely back England giving a long run to the players who have shown and they believe in, have real class, to find form. But when players are obviously not able to play to a standard brcause of fitness, it makes no sense. Both players are too young to say their pace is simply in decline, but obviuolsy they cant push the ball through at the moment. Again in principle I dont have a problme playing Bres...but in particular on this wicket which is slow, with some low bounce, you want a wicket to wicket bowler lime Onions, who can exploit lbws, nota 4th stuup bowler like Bresnan. Onions is in the form of his life, is in good enough shape to get the ball through at a proper pace...

Posted by A_Yorkshire_Lad on (December 15, 2012, 23:10 GMT)

It's quite disheartening that Bressie's batting has dropped off so , quite apart from his lack of success in his bowling - I was at the India match at Trent Bridge last year when he made 90 in the second innings and , when he was walking out to bat , a fellow Yorkist sitting behind me said , " He's that good , he's come out wi' a stick of rhubarb " ! Best of luck Tim !

Posted by VillageBlacksmith on (December 15, 2012, 22:22 GMT)

Bresnan has never been a test player, he's bits and pieces and he reminds me of I D Austin, one of the lows of a managing career of lows for david lloyd... Quite how Onions has been overlooked in place of this new Ian Austin is astonishing, but the selectors have form... How bell is playing over JB is also astonishing, it's hard enough to win in India without carrying 2 passengers, especially when you have 2 great replacements on the bench.

Posted by   on (December 15, 2012, 22:01 GMT)

Broad and Bresnan are both the same overrated and average. I know England have better players than them in the domestic circuit but selectors are too reluctant to use them.

Posted by whoster on (December 15, 2012, 21:36 GMT)

It was a big blow for England when Finn was ruled out of this Test - but I agree that Onions must wonder why he was chosen in the squad. Bresnan has looked woefully iineffective since before the SA series, while Onions had a great summer taking lots of wickets for Durham. It's a shame for Bresnan, as he's been terrific for England, but the selectors have got to be ruthless.

Posted by JG2704 on (December 15, 2012, 21:30 GMT)

I'm not going to slag Bres off or the selection of him , so long as they selected him because he thought he was more likely to do damage with the ball than Onions or Meaker and did not pick him to add depth to the batting

Posted by JG2704 on (December 15, 2012, 21:27 GMT)

@willsrustynuts on (December 15 2012, 16:50 PM GMT) I'm not sure I agree with you. India looked very dodgy when MSD came in and if they had gone too quickly too early they may have had a huge deficit to contend with. As it is they still have a very realistic chance. They are close enough already to be in it (personally I'd consider declaring on the overnight score) and if the pitch does start to do funny things. Maybe MS/VK thought that would be the best chance and they could well be right

Posted by Whatsgoinoffoutthere on (December 15, 2012, 21:13 GMT)

I reckon Bresnan's batting got him into the side for this game (and even that is based upon past performance and not present form). The end of this game will probably mark the start of an extended period out of the team for Bresnan. He needs to go back to Yorkshire, get some overs under his belt, biff a few over long on with the bat and generally get back to doing what he did so well. However, Swann delivered with the bat when in the position of being needed as a batsman...

Hopefully, England will now have the confidence to pick two spinners more regularly. I think England's best attack (if fit) is the one that played in the third Test. With Finn/Anderson/Swann/Panesar, every bowling change also changes the type of bowling. There's something to be said for that (and there is also something to be said for trusting Trott with a few overs).

Regarding this match, it isn't over yet, although I was encouraged by England not having surrendered a lead by the close of the third day.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (December 15, 2012, 21:07 GMT)

Bresnan is one of those players who comes across as an honest, hardworking reliable performer that gives it his best shot every time. It's sure that he is well-liked, professionally & socially (he has been proactive in getting young Joe Root at ease with the senior setup, I read recently). Thus, there are many solid reasons why Flower has seen him as a go-to, especially when a frontline performer (Broad or Finn, for example) has pulled up with a niggle or worse. And yet, George, you're right. He's still trying to do his utmost for the cause, but he's just not the bowler he was. This also becomes something of a vicious circle, because his underperforming will be sapping his confidence. The runs have dried up too, as you note. There's no question mark against his character, but his fitness to do precisely what he wants to do, almost certainly as a unwanted result of his op. probably means his Test playing days are ending here, pro tem. Let's hope it isn't permanent for his & Eng's sake.

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 15, 2012, 20:22 GMT)

He is good in england condition. In India you need speed and swing to be effective

Posted by   on (December 15, 2012, 19:29 GMT)

Dont rest Anderson for Test and never rest anyone from Test for that matter. They dont play county cricket with central contracts and they can be rotated from ODI's and T20's. If Anderson is to become Englands highest wicket taker he needs to play in every game...this is not like the 90's when players were bowled to death. He doesnt play T20i and can be rested from ODI's, so breaking down wont be an issue plus he's our fittest bowler by a mile. Think he's had one injury in best part of four years!

Posted by landl47 on (December 15, 2012, 19:23 GMT)

Bresnan has always looked a bits and pieces player who fed off the success of others to give him respectable statistics. I don't remember him making tough runs (his 3 test fifties came in scores of 496, 544 and 710) and while his bowling has been better, he's been out of sorts for some time now and his average has climbed to 31 and is rising fast. I think he's a whole-hearted trier and well-liked in the dressing room but even he admitted he hadn't worked hard enough after he had two really poor tests against South Africa.

I hope Woakes has spent the Winter working on his strengh and conditioning. If he could pick up a yard of pace he'd be a very good 4th seamer in the manner of Shane Watson and his batting is far superior to Bresnan's. Last season he averaged 70 with the bat and 25 with the ball. He'd be a great #7 and a useful bowler. England really needs a genuine allrounder for balance and sadly Bresnan isn't it.

Posted by 158notout on (December 15, 2012, 19:13 GMT)

csr11 - whilst i am not a big fan of bresnan, would definitely have brought Onions back in a long time ago I don't understand your last comments. Did I miss something? As far as I am aware Bresnan, like Anderson, Morkel, Steyn, and many others is one of those big pace bowlers who is a gentle giant off the field, very much a gentleman.

Posted by oze13 on (December 15, 2012, 19:10 GMT)

Well off the pace today, as he has been for a long time. Bowled for long periods below 80mph. Looked unfit and was blowing hard. Very disappointing from a talented cricketer.

Posted by   on (December 15, 2012, 19:05 GMT)

Maybe the guy was rushed into playing international cricket after the surgery.

Posted by gsingh7 on (December 15, 2012, 18:57 GMT)

this trundler got wat he deserved from home track bullies , i was disappointed to see him missing from 2 tests, that swing the balance in english side big time.

Posted by Kays789 on (December 15, 2012, 18:31 GMT)

amazing that this guy is even in the reckoning still after being hammered out of sight and memory by sanath jayasuriya and co. in 2006 when he first appeared on the scene. England has too much talent and potential in their fast bowling ranks to be persisting with a mediocre player like this in spite of one or two good performances over half a dozen years.

Posted by csr11 on (December 15, 2012, 18:22 GMT)

Wasnt this guy englands talisman not so long ago.. Where some superstitiius english fans wanted to get him picked because england never lost with bres in the site..may be it is the other way now.. England never win with bres in the side.. Anyway looks like big mouth bresnans career is as good as over.. Comeuppance..

Posted by OhhhhhMattyMatty on (December 15, 2012, 18:19 GMT)

Won't do him any harm to spend the Summer playing for Yorkshire, while Anderson, Finn and Onions take the seamers spots for this English Summer, with Broad, Tremlett and Harris as the back-ups.

Posted by SDHM on (December 15, 2012, 18:18 GMT)

@willsrustynuts - I sort of agree, but when startin the day at 87-4, what were Kohli & Dhoni supposed to do? I thought they played superbly. It looks worse now they lost wickets in the final hour though, and they are banking on a horror session at some point from England (which as George alludes to, is definitely not beyond them!) On the subject of Bresnan, his recall for this game was ridiculous - he has bowled well in one game all year, the Trent Bridge test against WI, and how he was given another chance here I don't know. He actually bowled fairly well yesterday I thought, but looked innocuous today. If he is on the plane to New Zealand, something is wrong with the selection process. Ahmedabad should've been his last Test; this has to be, at least until he has taken a stack of wickets in county cricket again. @jimbond - he was poor in England virtually all summer, as I said. It is time to move on - Onions or Meaker can offer so much more.

Posted by phoenixsteve on (December 15, 2012, 18:17 GMT)

I've been saaying for months and monbths that Bresnan is NOT a test cricketer. He's somehow found favour with the selectors and MUST be a very popular dressing roon character. His selection (despite being a trundler) is often justified on his batting ability! An ability that at best is unreliable and at worst non-existant! I though that England had learned the lesson that sub-continent conditions demand 'speciialists'. Quick bowlers who are either quick or bouncy (and quick) or can swing it.... spin bowlers that can spin the ball? There's no room in these testing bowling conditions for bits and pieces players and so no place for Bresnan or Patel. Maybe Onions or Meaker would have securred this test for England which looks to be heading for a draw? Great knocks by Kohli (who seems sulky?) and Dohni who was so unlucky with the tightest of run outs. UDRS seems on the cards and so does some Indian retirements? SRT has been a great player but he seems Englands 'bunny'. COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Posted by tests_the_best on (December 15, 2012, 18:16 GMT)

How life has come full circle! Bresnan asked India to go home halfway through india's tour to eng in summer 2011 and to think he might have been asked to go home quarter-way through the current tour. Cricket indeed is a funny game!

Posted by RodStark on (December 15, 2012, 17:40 GMT)

I am curious why they haven't used KP's bowling more in this series. So far his figures are 8-1-25-1, all in the first test. Admittedly, with both Swann and Panesar (and Patel in the first 3 games), there's been less need for part-time spin, but on a day like today, I would have thought his extra height and variations might have been worth a try.

Posted by Aussasinator on (December 15, 2012, 17:39 GMT)

A gutsy effective player who tore into the Aussies so well. Hope he gets well , maybe a little rest would help the elbow instead of rushing it in due to competitive pressure.

Posted by   on (December 15, 2012, 17:29 GMT)

Heart-yes! Breast-none! When you bent your back so much, day after day, without adequate results, any one will run out of puff. Any way, he always looked just one of the better ones among the bits-and-pieces players, England used to field, so often, and in abundant numbers. Nice to see, the new found inclination to look for specialists like Finn and Root.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (December 15, 2012, 17:29 GMT)

I feel Bresnan is in need of a season in county cricket, rebuilding his confidence and pace especially after the surgery on his elbow. I thought Onions might get a run out this game instead of Bresnan. I dont agree with calling up Meaker when Onions is in the squad already. I would like to see Finn, Onions, Meaker, and Anderson in the NZ tour squad with Anderson rested for the return series at the start of next summer.

Posted by attilathecricketer on (December 15, 2012, 17:22 GMT)

Yep pick on the bowler. I probably would have preferred Onions rather than Bresnan for this test but what about Bell?

Posted by Trickstar on (December 15, 2012, 17:18 GMT)

I've been a big fan of Bresnan for years, but it's clear to everyone that since his elbow injury his pace has gone. In the Ashes and summer 2011 he was the fastest bowler in the side, consistently over 86mph who could genuinely hurry batsmen with bouncers, today he was hitting 78mph. The team should have never taken the risk with him, even though he kept it tight today, there was just no threat there. Most wanted Onions after Finn got injured and I agree he would have been tricky on this pitch, or even the extreme pace of Meaker, even though I don't think he could have got across the country in time. I worry for his test career because unless he gets his pace back it's pointless and there's plenty wanting to take his place, at least we'll have him back next season at Yorkshire.

Posted by jimbond on (December 15, 2012, 17:06 GMT)

Back in England Bresnan is likely to be effective once more. However most teams that bowl with four bowlers or three and half bowlers- get stuck when a few partnerships emerge and when they have to bowl for long. For long Australia had two great bowlers, for them four bowlers are okay. For SA- they have Kallis; hence for them too four bowlers are okay. Pakistan too manage with four because they have Afridi/Hafeez etc who are more than capable bowlers, and WI have several parttimers who can contribute such as Gayle, Samuels, etc. It is countries like India, England, and the current Australia (if they are not playing Watson) for whom the four bowler strategy becomes a risk.

Posted by willsrustynuts on (December 15, 2012, 16:50 GMT)

I cannot agree that Indian played their hand perfectly today. They batted too slowly for a team that professes to want to win.

Posted by mikey76 on (December 15, 2012, 16:36 GMT)

If onions doesn't get a game against NZ after Christmas then there is something seriously wrong. Bresnan, like Broad needs to go back to the UK. He is definitely surplus to requirements. Anderson, Onions, Finn and Meaker should be the fast bowlers on the plane down under with perhaps Woakes filling the all rounders slot.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 15, 2012, 15:56 GMT)

Bresnan - Ashes hero, Aussie tormentor in their own back yard. But since shoulder surgery, like loads of cricketers who've had surgery of such severity in their careers, his pace is down and his fire has been seemingly tapered for now. England are bursting with fast bowling talent, but I feel come next year's English summer Bresnan will remain in the team, this due to his 'swing it both ways' skills and talent with the bat. Hopefully after a stint in First Class Cricket to get him back to normal again.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (December 15, 2012, 15:53 GMT)

Well.welll.....could have told them so. Meaker would have got it better because however anaesthirised the wickets are he has that extra bit of pace. or Onions would have been better. Bresnan needs help with his elbow or whatever it is.

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