Should Tim Bresnan be in England’s Test team?

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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.

Oscillate wildly

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.


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  1. Weren’t you just praising the fat baker, who by the way seems to have gone on some sort of slimmer’s plan, just recently?

    I see from the links below…

  2. Spot on King Cricket. Wholehearted trier he may be, but Bresnan can not play as one of four bowlers at test level.

    Against most teams I could see him as number seven and fifth bowler, but I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be see him strolling out at seven at the Gabba in November.

    I guess though that won’t happen and England will go with six batters for most of the Ashes series.

    We doubt that Ricky Ponting is losing too much sleep | Toothless England fail to contain Tiger Tamim

  3. Teams that have been successful with four bowlers:

    1. 1970s / 1980s West Indies (choose any four from Marshall, Croft, Roberts, Garner and Holding)

    2. 1990s / 2000s Australia (choose any four from McGrath, Warne and two other Australian passport holders)

    The point being that you can have four bowlers if and only if at least some of them are the best bowlers the world has ever seen. Else not.

    This means that you can’t have too many bowlers who can’t bat. Ideally you need a genuine all-rounder, but given that we don’t have one right now we have to try and make one out of several pieces. Bresnan’s unsefulness is his ability to do all those things you said in the article, plus being one-third of Andrew Flintoff.

    Swann, Broad, Anderson, Finn (?), Bresnan (?). It’s probably as good as we can muster right now.

  4. This is qualified praise, Vim.

    A lot of people seem to have decided Bresnan ain’t good enough based on this one Test match. We’re saying that he is good enough – he’s just not exceptional.

  5. On the contrary, I think looking like a cartoon baker from a children’s TV series is an excellent criteria for selection, particularly as part of a 5 man attack if none of the other 4 look like cartoon bakers.

  6. Shahzad, Saj, Plunkett, Woakes…..

    The cupboard isn’t exactly bare!

    Bresnan can contribute with the bat, but I’d be surprised if he’ll strike fear into the hearts of Aussies.

  7. At least when Bresnan does eventually give up the cricket he’ll walk straight into a role in the live action re-make of Camberwick Green.

  8. Think Bert sums it up, you can get away with 4 bowlers, but only when one or two of them are great bowlers, and unfortunately England’s bowlers don’t come into that category.

    Think what also goes against Bresnan, is that head-to-head with Flintoff he comes nowhere.

    Even so, is he good enough to be a 5th bowler? I think he probably is. Just because he’s not better than Flintoff, dosen’t mean he’s not good enough for test cricket.

    But if we go to Australia with him as part of a bowling quartet just because we beat Bangladesh (and probably Pakistan) over the summer with him, we will probably get a good hiding.

  9. Bresnen is one of those players who the pundits insist “bowls a heavy ball” or “hits the bat harder than the speed out of the hand suggests”. He can change the laws of physics, which has to be a good thing in a cricketer.

  10. I’m surprised KC, that you haven’t mentioned the obvious thing about Bresnan. That he looks exactly like my brother in law.
    I know, I know, ‘which one?’ is the question you’re asking.
    And that’s the most brilliant part.
    Both of them!
    Ha ha ha ha ha!

  11. It’s probably so obvious now that you come to mention it.

    How did we miss that?

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