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James Tredwell: England off-spinner who found himself in shadow of Graeme Swann

James Tredwell © Getty Images
James Tredwell has snared 36 wickets in 27 ODIs at an average of 27.55. He has also picked up six wickets in one Test at an average of 30.16 © Getty Images

James Tredwell, born on February 27, 1982, is an England off-spinner. Tredwell is a talented bowler, but has been in Graeme Swann’s shadow for the most part of his career. England’s reliance on fast bowlers also has seen him restricted to limited opportunities in the national side. Shrikant Shankar analyses Tredwell’s career so far.

James Cullum Tredwell was born in Ashford, Kent. He rose through the ranks at Kent County Cricket Club. He also played for the England Under-19s and captained the team. He was offered a contract at Kent in 2001. His One-Day International (ODI) debut for Kent was in 2002. Despite being a part of the limited-overs team for a long time, Tredwell only cemented his place for his First-Class team in 2007. His good performances in the domestic arena earned him many call-ups to the England Lions side and England Performance Squads too.

But Tredwell found it very hard to break into the England team. There are two reasons behind it. First, England have always been a side filled with fast bowlers. Their reliance on seam and swing bowlers has limited the opportunities for many spin bowlers in their national ranks. Conditions in England are always favourable to the fast bowlers and at the maximum, only one spinner will be part of the side. When England won the Ashes 2005, they had four fast bowlers in the ranks and one spinner in Ashley Giles. His job was mainly to contain the Australian batsmen, as the quicker bowlers ran havoc with their swing and reverse swing.

The second reason Tredwell found it difficult to break through was the form of Graeme Swann. The right-hand off-spinner was probably the best slower bowler in the world from 2008 to 2013, till he retired. England also had their best performances in that period. They won three Ashes series in-a-row. They won the ICC World T20 2010 and were the No 1 Test side in 2011. England had James Anderson and Stuart Broad as their premier fast bowlers with the likes of Andrew Flintoff, Tim Bresnan, Chris Tremlett and Steven Finn in support at various times.

Swann was the lone spinner and his ability to win matches always made him a sure shot in the England side. Tredwell had to wait for his turn for either Swann to get injured or be rested and unfortunately for him that did not happen on too many occasions. The first time Tredwell ever played an international match for England was on March 2, 2010, in a ODI against Bangladesh in Dhaka. He went wicket-less in a narrow win for England. Tredwell made his Test debut in the same tour in Dhaka on March 20. His first wicket was that of Tamim Iqbal. He then dismissed Shakib Al Hasan. He also scored 37 runs in the first innings, while batting at No 10. In the second innings, he took four wickets to bowl Bangladesh out for a relatively low total. England went onto win the match by nine wickets. That remains Tredwell’s only Test till date.

He was then selected in England’s ODI squad for their 2010-11 tour of Australia. He played in the second ODI in Hobart and again went wicket-less. In the ICC World Cup 2011 played in the subcontinent, Tredwell was selected in England’s squad. His first match was against West Indies in Chennai. Actually, Chris Gayle was Tredwell’s first wicket in ODIs. He went onto take the wickets of Devon Smith, Darren Bravo and Andre Russell as England won by 18 runs.

His good show, earned him a spot in the quarter-final against Sri Lanka in Colombo. But England were outplayed by the Sri Lankans and lost by 10 wickets. Tredwell had to wait for more than a year to make it back into the England ODI team. He played against Australia in the fifth ODI in Manchester on July 10, 2012. He picked up two wickets in that game and England went onto win it by seven wickets. It was around this time that Tredwell found his purple patch with the England national team. He played three ODIs against South Africa in 2012 at home. He picked up five wickets in total.

Tredwell then made his Twenty20 International (T20I) debut against India in Pune on December 20, 2012. He then played all the five ODIs that ensued. He finished as the leading wicket-taker in the series with 11 wickets. But England lost the series 3-2. He also picked up his best bowling figures of four for 44 in the first ODI in Rajkot. Tredwell was then selected in England’s squad for the home series against New Zealand in 2013. He only played one match, but picked up three wickets in that appearance in Nottingham, as England won by 34 runs.

He played in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 in England. Tredwell picked up three wickets against South Africa in the semi-final at The Oval in London, as England progressed to the final. Tredwell, though, could not stop India winning the final by only five runs. He then played the ODI series against Australia in England in 2013 and Down Under in 2014. His performances of late have tailed away mirroring England’s own plight. When Swann announced his surprise retirement in the middle of the Ashes 2013-14 series, people thought that Tredwell would ideally get a place in the Test side. But leg-spinner Scott Borthwick was selected for the Sydney Test.

With Borthwick under 24 years of age and Tredwell turning 32 years, it would be difficult for him to make a return to the England Test side. Age is not exactly on his side, but England could use some experience at a difficult time for the national team as well rather than thrusting youngsters who are not yet ready. Tredwell has played 27 ODIs for England so far and taken 36 wickets at an average of 27.55. He has two four-wicket hauls with a strike-rate of 33.3 and an economy-rate of 4.95. Tredwell has also played eight T20Is for England. He has taken only four wickets.

During all this time, Tredwell was also captain of Kent in 2013. Tredwell generally comes as a tail-ender for England, but his batting record in domestic cricket is impressive for a lower-order batsman. His highest First-Class score is an unbeaten 123 and he has two other centuries. Tredwell averages a handy 22.17 with the bat. James Tredwell has lived under the name of Graeme Swann for the most part of his career, but he now faces a new age of English cricket, where younger players are being preferred.

(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)

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