Jade Dernbach – where do we all stand on this at the minute?

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Jade Dernbach, doing arm and non-doing arm

Back when everyone was going mental about Jade Dernbach and his ‘variations’ we pointed out that he was essentially half a bowler. He did the eye-catching things well, but he was fairly useless at the everyday stuff that’s equally important. Shortly after that, we argued that he shouldn’t be dropped, even though we still felt the same about him.

We’re not quite sure where we stand now. This is largely because people are turning on him and our immediate reaction is therefore to take the exact opposite stance so that we can distance ourself from them. It is never good to be on the same side as ‘people’. That’s how pretty much all the worst things in history happened.

This is a tricky position to be in, however, because Jade doesn’t actually seem to have learnt an enormous amount since last year, which was pretty much our entire reasoning for keeping him in the side. Instead, he seems to have become even more like a human coin toss. Heads is conceding 12 off the over. Tails is a wicket with a back-of-the-hand slower ball. The coin will never land on its edge.

You can’t plan with a bowler like that. He’s either a secret weapon or a complete liability at any given moment and there’s no real way of identifying which. If we could rebrand him ‘the last roll of the dice’ and bring him on as a substitute when the game was all but lost, that would be ideal. But it doesn’t work like that. Pick him and you’re committed to at least a few overs. If you’re going well, those few overs can undo plenty of good work.

Where do you stand on this? Is he a cad and a bounder and should we beware his dandy ways as we warned all those years ago?


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  1. This article was supposed to be about bowling figures and powerplay overs. Could you all just sort of imagine that bit? Cheers.

  2. I was going to ask why Chris Woakes never seems to get a game. It wasn’t until I checked his profile that I realized he did play today. Shows how much attention I pay.

    My opinion on Dernbach? Doubt he’ll play Tests so I wouldn’t pick him in ODIs, I guess. Or pick him. I don’t care, because chances are I’ll not be taking notice anyway.

    It’s hard work being aggressively disinterested.

    1. The important part is to make sure you take every opportunity to tell everyone just how little you care.

  3. If the question is solely about the third ODI, then the choice to drop Dernbach would necessitate bringing in Bresnan or Meaker as the third seamer, or playing Danny Briggs as a third spinner.

    Dernbach’s figures are always going to suffer in economy terms because he is seen as a specialist death bowler. That is definitely one reason why he has such a high strike rate and appalling economy. Is he any good at the death? I think his variations are actually very useful in situations where the asking rate climbs, and that his dismissal of Dhoni in the first ODI shows that. He may end up becoming a bit of a horses-for-courses pick; in situations where you fear the middle/lower-middle order of an opposing side in the late overs, you might be tempted to pick him as a wicket-taking death bowler.

    (If the question is whether he should be dropped from the squad, I am not actually sure he is in the best/ideal England one-day squad anyway.)

    One thing to hold against him is that he is a true tailender. One automatic ODI pick (Finn) is already holding down one of the two rabbit spots.

    Even in ODIs, which I don’t think actually count, I am opposed to too much chopping-and-changing except for rest (or injuries, obviously). Just because he’s not been on the Test team is no reason not to give Dernbach as much time as Bresnan to sort himself out. Bresnan seems to have been well dropped; I think Dernbach should be given time to work on how to bowl the middle overs.

  4. Oh, and: the very first person who should be getting dropped is Craig Kieswetter. I think England have made a terrible mistake with their keepers; they seem to be lining up a series of moose wearing gloves. Moose who can bat, yes, but guys like Bairstow and Buttler and even Kieswetter may as well be keeping with a bat in their hands.

    We hear all the time about how important fielding is in short-form cricket, and then we see England picking keepers who are barely familiar with playing the position. It’s appalling to watch, and puts a great deal of extra pressure on the bowlers. That Steven Davies has been dropped without a trace is appalling. England is hip-deep in good keepers but none ever seem to be called into the ODI squad.

    1. Good point and we wouldn’t laud Kieswetter’s batting too much either. It’s similar to Dernbach’s bowling – high on the eye-catching bits and low on the everyday stuff. Plenty of boundaries, not too many ones and twos.

  5. You have given the solution to this quandary in this very article. The way out is to pick ten other losers so every match is “all but lost” so you can always bring in Jade as the “last roll of the dice”.

    The correct answer is always the simplest, you see.

  6. I would say drop him. England’s greatest purported strength a few year back was the reserves of fast bowlers. Promote one of them and see what he can do. If Dernbach is only ever a die cast away from 10 overs of utter dross then let’s roll the dice on another young player or two and learn something new.

    It can hardly goany worse. Surely, right?

  7. Dernbach should be kept for ODI and t20’s he provides good variation and England already have bowlers who can bowl fast and straight, Dernbach provides another option and he figures will always be high as he is a death bowler, what happened to finn, today his figures where punished at the end as well. Dernbach is risky but risks win matches he can gain key wickets at the death and should be rewarded with a place in the side.

  8. I find it sobering that when Dernbach concedes his typical 10 or so off an over in the 40-50 region we’re supposed to think “mmm – yes, that’s what he’s in the side to do”.

  9. I’m I the first person to spot the correlation between:

    * bowlers with unfeasibly plentiful tattoos all over their arms


    * bowlers whose effectiveness can vary from day to day between utter dross and match-winning.

    I cite Jade Dernbach and Mitchell Johnson. I rest my case.

    BTW, I wouldn’t pick either of them to play in my International side, unless desperate.

    1. Interestingly, Mitchell Johnson is also known for his variations – his line for example varies from yards down the leg side to yards outside off stump. The point being that the positive sense of “variation” is not a synonym for “random”. For an ODI bowler, it is the ability to vary between a few very carefully placed and very carefully paced deliveries, not varying between slower-ball boundary fodder and fast over-pitched boundary fodder.

      I wonder if the hype has got to him, that as he is known primarily for his variations this is what he thinks this is all he has to do.

  10. Dernbach is a very, very difficult case. He seems to have both the worst and best attributes of a fast bowler asked to bowl at the death.
    One the one hand (the tattooed one) he has that slightly Mitch Johnsonlike heartbreaking, worried, sad face when its going wrong and a worrying tendency to bowl the slow full toss at exactly that point. Surely the most important thing for a man with his job is not loosing it when you get hit, which is basically going to be always.
    On the other hand, yesterday I saw him bowl an 88mph yorker bang on the limit of the guideline that Dhoni could simply do nothing about. Then land the very next ball on the exact same point with no discernable change in action or seam (back of the hand horseplay) but 15 mph slower. That is ridiculous. That is silly cricket.
    To return to Mitch, it reminds me of those moments in Perth once every three years when MJ swings the ball back into the right hander very late and very fast and I always say “well, just do that lots more times”.

  11. Personally I’d drop him but if he does play why don’t they use him for his death bowling only? I’d rather see the likes of Patel and Root bowling a few more overs, and Dermbach can bowl 5 overs or so from over 36 onwards (assuming that’s when the powerplay is taken.

    His batting, fielding and running between the wickets when he does have to bat are all other good reasons to not put up with his mediocre bowling. Plus his wicket celebration needs work…

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