Fast Bowling Woes: Is Bresnan Really The Right Choice?

7 03 2010

With the first test of the Bangladesh series due to start on Friday in Chittagong, England’s fast bowling plans are in disarray. Usual first choice players such as Stuart Broad, Graham Onions and Ryan Sidebottom are all injured to varying degrees and unable to play in the 3 day warm up game starting today. Sidebottom is out for the series and we suspect has probably played his last test. For 18 months he was brilliant, yet in the last 18 months he has looked about as threatening as Alan Mullaly bowling on one leg and possesses one of crickets most fragile bodies to boot. Broad may yet make it for the 1st test, but Onions is unlikely to play in either the warm up or the test itself due to a lack of acclimatisation.

News came over the weekend that Tim Bresnan, that oversize ‘twittering’ hero of last Summer, has been added to the test squad. We must mention firstly that he has been the pick of the bowlers in the recent ODI series and is a useful enough batsman to have scored 80 in a ODI against Australia last year and so it could be argued that he justifies his place.

Tim Bresnan

Yet we disagree. To us he looks a good county bowler and perhaps even a useful international one day player when you factor in his batting. Yet in test cricket we feel he lacks that cutting edge necessary to get top class batsmen out. On an overcast day in May against a callow Windies side, or a humid day in Chittagong against an inexperienced Bangladeshi team he will do a job and probably end up with 3 or 4 wickets. On a flat track at Eden gardens, or a good wicket at the MCG with the cream of the worlds batting against him…. Well, all we can say is good luck Tim.

England’s selection policy does at times confuse and the picking of Bresnan, for us, is one of these times. More encouraging is the call up of Steve Finn, the uncapped 20 year old Middlesex bowler. When England selected for this tour they chose to use it as much for developmental reasons as anything else and this is why it is fantastic that Finn has been called up. We know about Bresnan as a player – he’ll run in hard all day, can bat a bit, likes the ball swinging, but lacks that cutting edge pace to make him a world beater on the flatter tracks. Finn however, being sharp, only 20 and 6 foot 7 inches is worth a look.

Our views on the sanctity of test cricket is oft repeated on this site and we would never normally countenance sending out a virtual second string bowling line up, thereby devaluing the game. Yet this appears to be the route England have gone down in this series and with this in mind, there seems little point persisting with players who have been tried and would not be trusted against any top flight nation.

Mind you, when Hoggard first came on the scene we didn’t rate him particularly highly either, so perhaps there is hope for Bresnan after all!

Therefore the Compulsive Hookers bowling attack (only considering bowlers available on friday) for the first test would be:

Broad, Shahzad, Finn, Swann, Tredwell.*

*We would like to see Onions in there, maybe for Finn, but it looks unlikely due to his back injury and England’s apparent unwillingness to risk him without any game time prior to the match.

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