The Ashes 2013-14 October 26, 2013

Finn, Tremlett, Rankin compete for final bowling spot


England's jetlagged batsmen and a handful of second-tier West Australians will spend the next week hopping around in the WACA ground nets and the middle after the touring captain Alastair Cook foreshadowed a willing battle between Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin for his side's final Ashes bowling spot.

With Tim Bresnan in the latter stages of his recovery from a back injury that is unlikely to allow him to be considered for the first Test, Finn, Tremlett and the former Irishman Rankin will have the bounciest practice and playing surfaces in the country on which to state their cases. Each must try to sway Cook, the coach Andy Flower and bowling mentor David Saker into a decision on who will share pace duties with James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Following England's first training session of the trip, Cook said his side's plans to make the most of the bounce on offer in Australia had been conveyed clearly enough by the selection of the tour party, but it was now up to the bowlers chosen to press their cases. Apart from their height in common, Finn, Tremlett and Rankin all have slightly differing stories and attributes: temperament and stamina will be under scrutiny in addition to bowling skill.

"It's quite clear to see that Jimmy and Broady have done enough over their fantastic careers to be first-choice bowlers," Cook said in Perth. "We tend to play three quicks and a spinner, so there is one space up for grabs. It's pretty clear for everyone to know that and people have to stick their hand up for selection. If they do really well in these couple of warm-up games in the opportunities they get they're going to put their name ahead."

Finn and Tremlett were each part of England's triumphant 2010-11 tour, part of a pace attack that improved with every Test match despite Anderson being the only constant throughout the series. Having begun the tour as the third seamer, Finn was dropped after Perth as his wickets were deemed to have come at too great a cost. Tremlett, in contrast, graduated from a reserve berth to part of the quick-bowling triumvirate in mid-series, and by its end was arguably England's most threatening bowler.

Rankin is the lesser known entity of the three, having switched allegiance from Ireland to England in order to pursue Test ambitions. He has turned plenty of heads on limited-overs duty for his adopted country, but must now show he has the ability to sustain his hostility and accuracy over the longer spells Cook will demand of him in the Tests.

"We think pace and bounce will be quite crucial on Australian wickets. I think that's quite common. Very, very skillful shorter bowlers can have success but, in general, pace and bounce is quite key," Cook said. "[Rankin] gives us that option, he obviously hasn't played a Test match or been around the Test match environment before, so interesting to see how he goes, but I think the next four days might be quite interesting with him, Finny and Broady all bowling."

England's preparation will closely mirror that of three summers ago, the one change being that their tour matches against WA and New South Wales teams will be head-to-head with rounds of the Sheffield Shield, thus weakening their opposition. Cook said his men would take what they could from the success of the previous trip without resorting to facsimile.

"It's very similar to what we did last time in 2010," he said. "That should give you enough time in the middle and some miles in your legs for the bowlers. We've got a long build-up for it and I think you need that for such an important tour.

"I think we'd be foolish not to look back on what we did on that tour and what we did very well. But you've got to remember this is a different side now. Things have evolved. We've got different players, different personnel as well. We can look at the right things we did there and try to replicate them but we can't just copy it outright, because our side is different."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Anupam on October 29, 2013, 13:30 GMT

    @ ScottStevo on (October 29, 2013, 8:32 GMT) Fella I said axe Clarke from captaincy not from the team he is the one of the world class batsman in test. Your comments about Pak is not valid we can't consider once in a blue moon, WI is not eligible for tests sure, SLC is having nightmare. Swanny & (replacement of Swanny) Monty is responsible for destroying India in India which looks like almost impossible but ENG made it and you all still dream it. 6/9 is an accident since then what he has done? fella Never make exception as an example. Everyone knows Clarke since he became captain problems started till now. I don't understand if Starc is a great bowler then why he dropped 9 out of 11. Swanny is a great spinner he also contributes with bat. Clarke will again hit by back injury after 2-0 down in Ashes.

  • John on October 29, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    @ScottStevo on (October 28, 2013, 19:07 GMT) Fair enough - but my original response (which you said I was harsh about the Aus bowlers on) was statistically based in response to a guy who said pre series that Aus bowlers were loads better statistically than Eng bowlers and after the series used the stats to say Aus batsmen were better. Re your comms about the batting imploding and the Eng lower order/tail scoring , both teams had inns where the tail did well (Aus in the 1st test) and both teams had inns when the lower order/tail added nothing. In the 1st test the Aus lower order/tail made a game of it and in the 3rd test they imploded. Also , out of interest why are you also not debating with Mitty if you thought our batting was better

  • G on October 29, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    but we've seen that scenario so many times where openers get off to a great start, but it is still difficult for new batsmen coming in. England ramped up the pressure and responded when they came out after tea and completely blew Australia away - if that is not worthy of saying England deserve the victory after performing like that, then what is? Australia were always competing with England at durham, never were they ahead. There is a reason 300 is a tough chase, because even if your openers get a century partnership, there's still an awful long way to go

  • Dummy4 on October 29, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    @ScottStevo- sure, couldn't care what the rankings are except you had to correct someone that said that Australia were ranked fifth in world (two points ahead of the mighty windies!). England only have to play to half their potential and they will yet again beat a bog average Aussie team with only one test quality batsman.

  • Scott on October 29, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    @AKS286, I suggest you read the comments I've made that state we bowled well and batted poorly; very poorly. Great idea, axe our only world class batsman and exchange him for a T20 player - where's your logic gone now?! Well, if by Pak, you mean the team that beat Eng 3-0 and are all over SA at home, then I'd say they aren't too bad a team. We recently beat both the WI and SL teams without breaking sweat, also knocked over India 4-0 and stretched SA to the limit. I'd say we'll compete with anyone and couldn't really care what the ranking says. As for Swann, explain why my comment is unfair? He bowled pretty ordinary and took 5 wickets - is that unfair? Spinners in India generally have a bad time, but the same Clarke you dislke so greatly has magnificent figures, 6-9 in one innings! As for Starc, he'll be a great bowler. He's been in the side 11 times and dropped 9 times - never given time to get a rhythm going. In fact, he was dropped after single-handedly winning us a test match.

  • Martin on October 29, 2013, 7:08 GMT

    It'll be squad rotation like it was last time. I would expect Finn to get the first couple of goes. Don't forget that Finn was the leading wicket taker on either side by the end of the second Test last time in Aus, and then he was dropped! Lurch came in at Perth and was quite superb - something else that people forget, but England's batting was pathetic there and it cost us the match. Anyway - Finn will start and then I can see Bresnan coming back as well. I suspect that Rankin may get a go before Tremlett, depending on how it goes in training. 2 of Tremlett/Rankin/Finn will play at Perth I should imagine.

  • Dummy4 on October 29, 2013, 6:46 GMT

    ScottStevo- 2 and 5 actually. Suggest you check. Australia is below Pakistan. And it is hard to give credit to a team that loses a test series 3-0, and has only won 3 test matches against the last fifteen played against England.

  • Anupam on October 28, 2013, 19:32 GMT

    @ ScottStevo Fella I read your comments OK. so, kindly tell me what is the summary & outcome of your comments?-- Aus played well than Poms but LOST... what is the logic behind this? just one thing and Oz team will be in track again- Axe Clarke from captaincy. Finch(vc), Marsh, Smith(C), Clarke, Bailey, Watto, Haddin/Handscomb, Johnson, Harris , Siddle, Beer. And your comments on Swanny is not fair. what is your opinion on Oz spinners in India including great Warne. Giles is better than Warne if it is in the context of Indian team. Be serious fella Poms are world no.2 team and your team is in the league of WI, Bang, Pak, SL. Australia is having the world's largest fast bowling talent pool but you select starc who is worst test bowler.

  • Scott on October 28, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    @Yevghenny, ah, I'm not really sure where you're coming from, mate. I didn't claim any such thing. However, with Eng scoring 238 and Aus at 210(ish)/5 with one of our openers in on around a ton, you'd say Aus were in quite a strong position. Then we capitulated and lost 5/60. In the second innings, it was Bresnan who made a 50 to give you guys a half decent total. And chasing 299 Aus were cruising at 100/0. Trust me (and you can check the commentary if you like), there were plenty of people fretting at that point in time and Aus looked, once again, in a very strong position from which they should've won - but once again crashed out. I'm not sure where you come up with that absurd final sentence of yours, but I think you've completely misunderstood what was said, mate. All I've said was that it wasn't the fault of our bowlers that lost us test matches, it was the poor batting performances...I wouldn't say we were robbed, but I'd still say Eng benefited from some 'good fortune.'

  • Scott on October 28, 2013, 19:07 GMT

    @JG2704, to be honest, I'm not really one of those that cares too much for stats, I prefer to watch the match and adjudicate the performances as I see them. It's one of the nuances of the game that makes it so special, that stats only ever tell half a story. I've seen numerous batsmen not score centuries, yet play exceptionally well in tough circumstances. And bowlers wreak havoc without being fortunate enough to kiss an edge or bail. Fine, over a career they're a decent indicator, but people use them on these forums like gospel and manipulate them according to their own viewpoint. From what I saw, I would have the Aus bowling pip Eng's and the Eng batting (or Ian Bell) performing a lot better than Aus. For me, Bell was the difference with some cameos from the bowlers. Ha - try 2 test matches in a row bowling all of day 5 at SA and winning neither!

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