Queensland Second XI v England PP, Brisbane, 2nd day November 28, 2013

Bresnan haul points to fitness return


England Performance Programme 376 for 9 dec. and 156 for 5 (Foakes 52*) lead Queensland Second XI 156 (Burns 97*, Bresnan 4-31, Mills 3-17) by 376 runs

Tim Bresnan could not be making better use of his first competitive outing since breaking down with a stress fracture to proclaim that he has no wish to sit out the entire Ashes series.

Nobody really expects Bresnan to be a serious contender for a place in the second Ashes Test, but with every day that passes, he is at least making them revisit the assumption.

He will join the Test squad following this England Performance Programme fixture, where Bresnan followed up a half-century (57 from 62 balls) on the opening day with 4 for 31 in 10 overs on the second day against a Queensland 2nd XI. There are a few England players who would have given a lot for such figures with bat or ball at the Gabba, where they suffered a drubbing against Australia in the first Test.

But England rarely shift from their preconceived plans and it is highly doubtful that they have ever contemplated playing Bresnan in Adelaide. On the roads around Australia, one often sees signs asking tired drivers undergoing long journeys: "Do you have a Plan B?" England's tendency will be only to consider Plan B when the wheels are falling off and smoke is pouring out of the engine.

It is difficult to gauge the worth of Bresnan's display against a Queensland 2nd XI - "solid" was one word routinely bandied around by Australian observers who felt he was still some way down on pace - and England's team director, Andy Flower, and coach David Saker are both in Alice Springs. He struck in the first over, having Dom Michael caught behind, and two other wickets came in the close-catching cordon.

Joe Burns, the one Queensland player of note in the side, also escaped Bresnan's clutches, falling just short of an unbeaten hundred as his side were dismissed for 156 at Allan Border Field. EPP squad then reached the close on 156 for 5 to secure a lead of 376 with a day remaining.

"He looked pretty good,'' Burns told Brisbane's Courier Mail. "He was swinging it a bit and bowling within himself a little bit but you could see he still had that effort ball. It certainly felt as if he was still building but he was not too far away."

It was another satisfying day for the Performance squad. They declared on their overnight 376 for 9, content that arguably the two most highly-regarded batsmen in the squad, Middlesex's Sam Robson, who retired on 102 and Moeen Ali of Worcestershire, who made 83, had made a favourable impression.

Bresnan had not played a competitive match since he broke down in the fourth Ashes Test at Chester-le-Street in August. His inclusion in Adelaide looks improbable, especially as the first drop-in Test pitch at the now multi-purpose stadium could well be a stamina-testing experience for both bowling attacks.

But his 24 wickets in five Ashes Tests mean that Australia hold him in high regard, none more so than the coach Darren Lehmann, who played alongside the younger Bresnan at Yorkshire. His hopes will be growing that he can make a contribution later in the series, certainly in Melbourne over Christmas, where he bowled the defining spell three years ago during the Test in which England retained the Ashes.

He has rarely attracted the plaudits during his 21-Test career, but after England's heavy defeat at the Gabba, his batting average of 30 and bowling average of 32 are looking more than ever the sort of dependable all-round figures England could do with.

Another all-round option that is a genuine possibility for the second Test is Ben Stokes. He made his international debut in the one-day series against Australia in England and will look to stake his claim for a Test debut in the No. 6 slot during England's two-day match in Alice Springs, alongside batsmen Jonny Bairstow and Gary Ballance.

"Everyone is going to go out there and make sure they put their hand up and prove a point that they want to be out here and be in that second Test match," Stokes said. "There's probably three guys who've got the chance to try and get into that number six. Whether it's me or not, Gary or Jonny, but we've got this next two days to go out there and really try to get in there."

England are yet to name their final XI for the Alice Springs tour match but are expected to rest Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Broad and James Anderson as they try to gather the evidence they need about how best to rebalance their side now that Jonathan Trott has returned home with a stress-related illness and they have gone 1-0 down in the series.

*November 28, 12.45 GMT: This article was updated to reflect the England team for Alice Springs

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cameron on November 30, 2013, 7:31 GMT

    I don't think they will risk him at Adelaide. He's a good cricketer, a county journeyman and they sorely need some guts in their team after the humbling at the Gabba. But, he's no match winner and England will obviously be sending down a tremendous amount of overs, probably close to a world record amount as Australia line up a couple of double hundreds and set up another huge, huge total for England to collapse under. Keep your cricket almanacs close to see the records mount up and to remember what once was for England.

  • Robert on November 30, 2013, 1:17 GMT

    Bresnan's continuing recovery is welcome news for England - the team miss his contribution. He is our Peter Siddle - honest, hard-working, doesn't let you down. Chuck him the ball as first-change bowler and he be will bowl a tight probing line and length. Hoggard-esque he keeps the pressure on the batsmen and takes wickets at a reasonable average too. His later order runs are invaluable (see his performance with the bat this summer). Bres in for the third test hopefully. If England are really in the mire at that point we might consider him at six or seven as part of a five-man attack - Anderson, Broad, Swann/Panesar, Bresnan, Finn/Rankin. Just a thought.

  • Zubair on November 29, 2013, 20:38 GMT

    Behold a genuine no3 all rounder batsman in Moeen Ali who has scored more than 2,000 runs in all forms of the game this summer, and took 55 wickets with his off-spin bowling. He is also the 2013 Player of the Year awards as voted for by the Professional Cricketers Association, evidence that he's been constantly performing over the last 18mth. Bresnan took 4 wickets in the first innings against Queensland in which Moeen didn't ball but made 83 with the bat. More importantly in the second innings Bresnan went wicketless but the ball was thrown to Moeen who took 5, yes 5 not 4, wickets with his off-spin, that of batsmen no 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7, effected the run out of the main centurion no 2 batsman Joey Burns, and also remained not out being made to bat lower down the order! Don't know about you, but I am so excited about the competition he could bring to our batting and spin. Play the lad now while he's present and hot and not later when he's nowhere and not.

  • Cam on November 29, 2013, 15:06 GMT

    @Lunge how will England win the next test when they can't make runs against the Alice Springs under 17's? I think England will be lucky to play 4 days in Adelaide they are so so poor at the moment. May be it was England's style of cricket that scared the crowds away? 120kph right arm snail and batting at 1.7 runs an over hardly gets the pulse going. 155kph and run a ball tons (exhibit A, Australia at the Gabba) now that is going to sell tickets.

  • j on November 29, 2013, 13:10 GMT

    @ShutTheGate: But it is a worry about Aus support in Melbourne and Sydney, one remembers what happened last time: Aus support suddenly found a barbeque to go to instead oif taking their seats in the ground, which wasn't good for the series and reflected very poorly on the home support.

  • rob on November 29, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    @ JG2704: Yeah I have to agree. It's quite hard to come back from a 136 run 1st innings and giving away a 150 run lead made it hard for the bowlers to get going. I guess there's a lot of pressure to get a bunch of wickets, fast. That can mess with your head. .. Still, that's their job.

    I think Bresnan gives you more but poor old Tremors didn't disgrace himself either. The thing is though, they wouldn't seriously consider bringing him back under done only to ask him to bowl on the best batting wicket in Australia would they? Maybe they would. You'd know that far better than me.

  • John on November 29, 2013, 9:50 GMT

    @ dunger.bob - It's a strange one. Tremlett should in many's eyes not have even been on the tour based on what he did in the domestic season. Then when he got on tour he took 1 wicket in the warm up matches and gets the nod when many of us thought Finn or Rankin should have gone. Anyway the problem in the 1st test was the batting , more than the bowling and that made the bowlers 2nd inns task all the more difficult as they were playing catch up - after doing ok in the 1st inns and by the same token Aus batsmen were not under the pressure they would have been had there been parity or Eng ahead after the 1st inns. Anderson bowled ok/well in the 1st inns but the shortened rest between inns due to our shortened inns was not good for any of our bowlers.Re Swann , I think the positive way Aus batsmen played him had much to do with it.The 2 wickets Lyon took weren't great balls - just very poor shots. Tremlett did ok but when Eng have batted poorly in the past they make a bowling change

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2013, 8:21 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge : Wait, how exactly are the English meant to abandon watching a test series when it's only just started? Is the bar set that low? If they've flown out here why would they NOT watch the game? Wouldn't a better comparison be the crowd at Manchester when Australia beat England by 88 runs in the ODIs? Istr the full house evaporating quickly in the second innings.

  • Rajkumar on November 29, 2013, 7:08 GMT

    what about Finn..now that Aus have seen Eng batsmen s' discomfort against pace and bounce Eng can expect more of the same from the pitch.atleast WACA is a surety.he may be leaking runs but Jhonson used to open flood gates of runs for batsmen.pace always comes with runs(remember the great Waqar).strange hes not even considered

  • Richard on November 29, 2013, 4:57 GMT

    @RednWhiteArmy:-England don't need to practice their sledging mate, that was perhaps the one part of their game at Brisbane that was up to usual expectations. Batting and bowling is what they should be practicing, that was where they lost it.