Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bresnan- Unsung Hero

A year ago, he wasn’t considered good enough for England's test side. Everyone from cricket fans to experts opined that he should never play test cricket. A few fans like me even held the opinion that he isn't anything more than a club cricketer, but the tough cookie from Yorkshire has proved us all wrong with his splendid performances in the Ashes, in the WC as well as in the recently concluded One-Day series against Sri Lanka.

When Bresnan runs up and bowls, not many cricket fans would like to switch on their television sets, or in excitement run to the stadium to watch him bowl yet, he is a vital cog in the England set-up, as he has the hunger of a lion and the stamina of an ox.  Bresnan will never be known as rolls royce of fast bowling, but he more than makes it up with his stamina and enthusiasm for cricket. In-fact, Bres's bowling can be compared to a woodcutter as he does all the hard-work by bowling long spells and keeps it tight with others benefiting from it by taking wickets.

So what made one of his biggest critics like me change my perception about Tim Bresnan? For a minute, let us rewind back to Ashes 2011 in Australia. Everyone from commentators, journalists in the press box, or the fans are debating on why the success story of the Ashes, Finn has been dropped and the unheralded Bresnan has been selected to play the third test at Melbourne. On expected lines, Andy Flower and co. are getting criticised heavily for taking such a decision, but in the end, Flower and co. got it bang on right with their selection as Bres in that series didn't just provide the wicket-taking option that the greenhorn Finn did in the first two tests, but also bowled long spells and gave England the much needed control in the middle overs by bowling line and length. Bres also got reverse swing which completely flummoxed the Aussies at Melbourne.

With England winning at Melbourne, the team was able to retain the Ashes, but there was still the unfinished business of winning a 50 over cricket World Cup. The hard grind of playing the Ashes and seven meaningless Onedayers down under  took heavy toll on England's players as one by one got injured. Rest of the players looked like they had just fought in the Towton war and had no more energy to play cricket. Bresnan though, like a true gladiator came up with a splendid performance at Bangalore against India in the WC. The pitch at Bangalore was so flat that it looked like an expressway. In-fact, those groundsmen who prepared that pitch can be used to prepare the upcoming Indian Grand Prix track! Bres like a typical Yorkie didn't lose heart as he kept hitting the good length and during the death overs bowled a sensational spell to rip through India's batting line-up and give England a semblance of chance of winning the match. If India had scored another 20-30 runs,  the match could have been over after the first innings itself. England team  flopped miserably in the WC, but Bres showed that he is a true fighter. Bresnan though, wasn't lucky with injuries as at the start of the English summer, he got injured yet, in the recently concluded series against Lanka, he made a fine comeback by picking up crucial wickets.

What makes Bres tick as a bowler? He is neither lightning quick nor can he swing it like a banana, but it is his ability to bowl old fashioned line and length and get just enough movement off the seam either way that helps him to get wickets. Bres hits the bat hard, has now got a yard quicker and can bowl reverse swing, but let it be on those flat wickets in Bangladesh,  in the Ashes, or in the WC, it was his ability to bowl line and length and the stamina to bowl long spells which helped him to succeed. At present, he is no doubt the unsung member of the side, who bowls with good control and keeps it tight. I haven't even talked about the fact that he is a decent bat, as he is a powerful striker of the ball and for a lower order batsman, has a decent technique. I do hope Bresnan gets selected ahead of Broad against India, as in the few chances he has got in Bangladesh, Australia, or in the WC, he has shown that he is a very reliable player, who can come up with consistent performances. 

To be honest, I see him as a key member in the team that will take up the gauntlet of playing the number one side India. Jimmy Anderson with his late swing is always a threat and the same can be said about Tremlett as he gets awkward bounce from a good length. England though, require Bres as he bowls long spells and keeps it tight which in turn will help Anderson and Tremlett to remain fresh and go for the kill. I also do believe that Indian batsmen won't like to face his bowling as he hits a good length and brings it back into the batsmen sharply. Leaving Laxman, none of the Indian batsmen like to pull but love to cut (Tendulkar has almost cut out the pull shot from his armoury due to injury problems). Bresnan's length can just tuck them up for room as he shapes it back into the batsmen sharply. One of the key reasons for South Africa's success story in the 90's against the Indian team was, because most of the bowlers leaving Donald and the tearaway Schultz, tended to do what Bres is doing at present, bowl a good length and give no room for the Indian batsmen to cut.

Having said all that do the selectors have the courage to drop the so called enforcer, who has a nasty streak from the side and pick Bres? We as cricket fans can just think of wishing the wholehearted cricketer from Yorkshire all the best and hope against hope that selectors have the brains to pick him for the mouth watering clash against the Indian team.

1 comment:

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