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'Expressive' Dernbach hopes to enliven England

Jade Dernbach, England's latest squad member, strains to impress during practice Getty Images

"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."