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Tim Bresnan: England’s industrious bowling all-rounder

Tim Bresnan has been the working class hero for England in the past half-a-decade or so  © Getty Images
Tim Bresnan has been the working class hero for England in the past half-a-decade or so © Getty Images

Tim Bresnan, born on February 28, 1985 is known for bowling seam-up with a heart of a lion. The tireless workhorse has many times been the unsung hero of English cricket. He can also thwack a few meaty bowls with the willow. Bharath Ramaraj has more.

If we jog our memory back to 2001, a stickily built bowling all-rounder in Tim Bresnan made his debut in Norwich Union List A tournament for Yorkshire against Kent at Headingly. Instead of zipping through the crease like a gazelle and hurling the ball at scorching pace, he just ambled in and was cutting the ball off the seam into the batsman at about medium pace. Yet, he bowled an economical spell of four overs and troubled the likes of David Fulton, Robert Key and Edward Smith.

More than a decade has gone by since then and at 29, Bresnan has established himself as a regular member of the England setup. Even now with those seemingly prosaic skills of angling it into the right-handed batsman and playing that odd knock with a glistening light attached to his shots, he continues to make valuable contributions.

Bresnan, during his early days in County cricket was known more for his ability to bowl parsimonious spells in the shorter versions of the game than to take a truckload of scalps in First-Class cricket. It led to him being selected for the One-Day International (ODI) series against Sri Lanka in 2006. Now that series turned into a nightmare for every English pacer who played in it. Bresnan was sledgehammered by the Matara marauder Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga. He must have been left in a state of daze after the mauling he received at the hands of Sri Lankan batsmen. County cricket’s cognoscenti though, reckoned that Bresnan had that warrior-like perseverance to chart his way back to the England side.

It took him a few years to essay comeback into the England setup. With England being smashed to smithereens by India in 2008-09, the selectors finally woke up from their deep slumber and selected Bresnan for the tour of Caribbean. In the two games Bresnan played during that tour, he didn’t exactly set the world alight, but showcased untiring accuracy to bowl line and length on an off-stump channel and kept the batsmen on a tight leash.

A few months later, Bresnan put in rock solid performances in the ICC World  T20 2010 held in the West Indies. The utility cricketer with a farmer-like gait ploughed his way through thorns and bushes and contributed towards England’s triumph. Let it be his quick-fire knock of 23 against New Zealand or that energetic industrious stamina on view with a ball in hand against South Africa, he always seemed to be in the thick of things.

After England lifted the coveted World T20 title in the Caribbean Islands, they went onto scale mountainous peaks. They put up a thoroughly professional performance in Australia to steal the thunder from Down Under and defeat them 3-1. James Anderson, deservedly won the plaudits for being a symbol of shining excellence with his banana-bending swing bowling and more surprisingly, the ability to make the ball talk off the pitch. Bresnan himself played his part by taking wickets and making invaluable contributions with the willow.

In the Test played at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), he was an irresistible force in the second innings. He hit the deck hard and generated reverse swing to floor Australian batsmen. Incidentally, by bowling with bristling spirit, he had already given a fine exhibition of reverse swing bowling in Bangladesh. It is a boon to have a pacer who can reverse the ball into the batsman consistently all the time. In the final Test match at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), he picked up five wickets as well. It was also the game when it was clearly evident that by exploring every crevice in Shane Watson’s defence, he had picked up a flaw. Watson was finding it extremely difficult to counter the incoming delivery from Bresnan.

Tim Bresnan was one of best performers for England during their victorious ICC World T20 2010 campaign © Getty Images
Tim Bresnan was one of best performers for England during their victorious ICC World T20 2010 campaign © Getty Images

A tired looking England squad then travelled to the subcontinent to play in the ICC World Cup 2011. Bresnan was one of the few cricketers who passed the trial by fire in that tournament. In the game against India on a feather-bed at Bangalore, Bresnan bowled near perfect yorkers to pick up a five-for. In a high scoring game, if it wasn’t for Bresnan’s yorkers, England might have well lost the match.

By the time India arrived on the shores of England in 2011, they had a chance to climb up the ladder to become the No 1 ranked side in Tests. They did just that by steamrolling an enervated Indian setup 4-0. Bresnan himself was in fine fettle. In the Test played at Trent Bridge, he bounced out Indian batsmen with lifters. He must have given a few seismic shocks to the battered Indian willowy wielders by hitting the bat hard with alarming velocity. He also struck some meaty blows in the second innings with the bat to send Indian fielders on a leather hunt.

Since that series against India though, Bresnan has struggled with elbow injuries and that has resulted in him losing a yard of pace. For someone who barely bowled fast medium to lose a yard of pace is akin to a death knell of his career. Yet, Bresnan still continues to chug along with decent showings.

In the Ashes series held in England in 2013, he made his presence felt by stitching a crucial partnership with Joe Root in the Test at Lord’s. He then zeroed in on Australian batsman’s off-stump and generated contrast swing/reverse swing to make the life of batsmen feel like hell.

Unfortunately, during the disastrous tour of Australia in 2013-14, Bresnan seemed like a journeyman seamer, whose international career was coming to an end. But make no mistake of the fact that Bresnan will try every sinew to convalesce from the troublesome elbow injury that is still affecting him and soar to greater heights in the future.

(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

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