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May 11, 2010
Few players have done more to advance their international ambitions in the last six months than Tim Bresnan. From being a bit-part player whose main chances came through injury or squad rotation he is now a key member in both forms of one-day cricket and produced a Man-of-the-Match display against New Zealand in St Lucia.
His miserly spell of 1 for 20 was a key reason why New Zealand couldn't escape England's clutches on a slow pitch. He began with three overs for 15, including the wicket of Jesse Ryder, and returned to bowl a superb final over. Then, with Eoin Morgan needing someone to stay with him towards the end of the chase Bresnan struck a calm 23 from 11 balls which carried England over the line with five balls to spare.
When Bresnan made his Test debut against West Indies last summer he was only keeping the place warm for Andrew Flintoff and he duly moved aside for the Ashes. His evolution really started in the Champions Trophy when he hit 80 against Australia in the semi-final and he impressed in the one-day series against Bangladesh. Following an injury call-up to replace Graham Onions he was the most impressive quick in the Test series and scored a crucial 91 in Dhaka. After continuing his form in West Indies he feels there is still more to come.
"I do believe I've still got a little bit more in the tank, a little bit more of me that I can show you," he said. "You're probably going to be surprised again, like you were, a few months ago, in Bangladesh . But I've known myself I've always had that ability, and you're going to see something a little bit more special yet. I've always had these performances in the tank; you're actually starting to see them come out of me now."
If a feeling persists that he could still be taken apart by a batsman in full flight then that can be said of any bowler in this tournament. Bresnan has shown is adaptability in this event, switching from back-of-a-length to yorker bowling and also subtle changes of pace as with the delivery to remove Ryder.
"I think the first over is almost easier than bowling the third or fourth," he said. "If you bowl it where you want to - back of a length and straight - with a little bit of variation, especially if it swings as well, the batsmen are just going to have a little bit of a look at you.
"By the third or fourth over, that is when the batter really starts to try to cash in. That's when you've got to use your skill and nous to do something different, and keep them guessing."
The faith shown in Bresnan by Andy Flower is similar to the belief that Duncan Fletcher had in another Yorkshire allrounder, Craig White, when many didn't think he was up to international standard. Bresnan now finds himself in the No. 7 position ahead of the Michael Yardy, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad.
"I'm feeling very, very relaxed in my role and I'm enjoying the responsibility of bowling the first and last over and batting at seven - a 'finishing' position," he said. "Everyone's really excited with where we're heading for the future. We're getting better every day, and it's fantastic to be a part of it."
Most of the England squad have produced a crucial performance at some stage of the tournament with captain Paul Collingwood the only one who has really struggled to make an impact. That is a significant development in the side that used to rest heavily on a few players in one-day cricket and Monday's win against New Zealand was also completed without Kevin Pietersen.
"On this trip so far, 75% of the lads have had a match-winning performance," Bresnan said. "The rest of the lads that haven't done something spectacular are saving it for the semis and the final.
"Any one of us can do it. That is the belief we've got, to take this competition right to the final. We're not finished yet. We don't want to be the team that gets to the semis and says 'that's a pretty good effort'. We've actually come to win this thing."
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Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa