As a bowler, it’s hard to see what Tim Bresnan offers that no-one else can. He’s a bit of a poor man’s Jimmy Anderson: a fractionally slower, slightly less sophisticated swing bowler who’s not quite as fit as the Burnley Express. Set against that, he was England’s best bowler in trying conditions in Bangladesh. How quickly people forget.
We’ve also sympathy with many people’s view that he’s not quite rid himself of the Twenty20 bowling approach yet. What were bad balls are now good balls and vice versa. It can’t be easy to flick the ‘Test bowling’ switch. More generally, with England oscillating between formats all summer long, it does beg the question as to whether we’re seeing the best cricketers playing at their best.
But even if we make allowances for that, what makes Tim Bresnan the Test bowler stand out? He doesn’t bowl swing as well as Jimmy. He’s not as quick as Stuart Broad. He’s not as tall as Steve Finn. He doesn’t bowl every ball at the stumps like Graham Onions. He does look like a cartoon baker in a children’s TV programme, but that’s not really a strong selling point when it comes to Test selection.
Letting the other bowlers bowl at their best
We can’t see Tim Bresnan as one quarter of a Test bowling attack, but we can see him as a fifth of one. With five bowlers, you can afford to have a defensive bowler who can switch to attack when conditions favour them. Ashley Giles used to do this job, but in Graeme Swann, England have an attacking spin bowler, so the defensive role can be filled by one of the pacemen instead.
This could be Tim Bresnan. He can attack when the ball swings and do a job the rest of the time. He’s also been hitting a few hundred runs at an average of 30-odd for each of the last few seasons in county cricket and is probably good enough to be one of three number eights occupying slots seven, eight and nine in the batting order, along with Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann.
Fit for the workload
England have been favouring four bowlers recently, but Stuart Broad loses 10mph over the course of a day and Steve Finn can’t have too much of a workload if he’s picked. Five bowlers might make more sense.
Bresnan could be the new Ashley Giles. Bet he’s delighted with that verdict.