I have to admit I never rated Tim Bresnan. When he first got collared by the Sri Lankans in a one day series in 2006 I thought this was just another humdrum northern trundler who would have his 15 minutes of fame (mostly humiliating close ups of his bulldog-chewing-a-wasp face as another moderate delivery went sailing over the boundary) and then disappear back to obscurity. For the record he bowled 25 overs in that series and took 2-169. To voracious Sri Lankan batsmen it was self service tucka. Even last summer I was bemoaning his apparent inadequacies – lack of pace, lack of imagination and wide angle on the crease making it easy for bastmen to launch him over mid wicket. I couldn’t understand England’s perseverance with him.
Something happened to him in Bangladesh. He seemed to become fitter and smarter and more confident. On those insipid Bangladesh pitches and in the most oppressive heat imaginable, he toiled away manfully and was the pick of England’s bowlers with excellent control, good use of reverse swing and wicket-taking nous. Perseverance was now his middle name. The rewards were few but the quality was emerging. There was an unexpectedly resourceful 90 with the bat too.
He has been very important in this England T20 campaign. He happily opens the bowling – not a job for the faint hearted – shows canny variation and anticipation in the middle overs and good yorkers at the end. He has been the ballast of the bowling attack and I don’t mean that rudely. And he’s fast becoming a handy and reliable provider down the order with the bat too. He may look unprepossessing, but the Sri Lankans who dispatched to him all parts in 2006 might just get a surprise in tomorrow’s semi final. He isn’t the new Andrew Flintoff but he is the new Tim Bresnan.