Cricket: Tudor can find right rhythm for Test

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The Independent Online
ALEX TUDOR wants to be England's friendly assassin in tomorrow's second Test at Port Elizabeth.

Tudor, in line for a recall to Test action following his injury troubles in recent months, is not renowned for the sort of histrionics indulged in by South Africa's world-class pace pair, Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock, or even those that occasionally emanate from England's Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick.

But the Surrey quickie sees no reason why he should change and is happy with his reputation as one of the nice guys of the pace bowling family. Instead of berating an opponent at the other end of the pitch, Tudor is more likely to show disgust at himself if he bowls a bad ball.

It has left him open to accusations that he is too likeable and passive a personality to be a successful fast bowler.

But, after improving his chances of selection for this week's Test with an impressive display against KwaZulu-Natal in Durban on Monday, Tudor is adamant he will not change his style just to suit an image.

"I'm not a great one for words, although I do have a stare," he said. "A lot of people have said I might be a bit too nice. But I just try to get on with it and let the ball do the talking.

"Some people sledge just for the sake of sledging. They get hit for four and they sledge. But what's the point of that - you just end up looking like an idiot. I tend not to say anything, but stare instead. If I have gone for a few I do get annoyed, mainly with myself in a similar way to Glenn McGrath, but maybe I should add a bit more menace to my game."

For now, though, Tudor is just delighted to back in the forefront for England and with Alan Mullally and Chris Silverwood by no means certain of selection after injuries he is poised to make his first Test appearance since scoring an unbeaten 99 to help beat New Zealand at Edgbaston last July.

Silverwood, the Yorkshire fast bowler, performed impressively in the nets yesterday after missing out in Durban with a left ankle problem, but Mullally is rated as the major doubt having struggled through two 20-minute spells at barely half pace and quite obviously still suffering from a strain to his right side. Should Mullally fail to prove his fitness today when both he and Silverwood will bowl again, Tudor is a near certainty to play on a pitch which is once again expected to favour seam rather than spin.

Tudor will enter the Test having delivered only 85 first-class overs on the six weeks of the tour following his lengthy lay-off with knee trouble - and apart from Monday's display he has failed to impress.

He has had a no-ball problem - 19 from just 41 overs during the previous match - and admits that earlier in the tour he looked nothing like the bowler who had Australia's leading batsmen hopping around in the crease on his Test debut in Perth a year ago.

But he is confident that the extra adrenalin on the Test match occasion will ensure his rhythm, pace and accuracy will click into place nicely if he is selected. "I've been bowling eight-over spells and I haven't been tiring and I've bowled a few overs now. I bowled around 40 overs in that last game and I feel good about bowling.

"Sometimes when you're not doing that well and you get picked for a Test match, all of a sudden you step up a gear and things happen which people don't expect.

"You just have to do the basics and get the rhythm right because sometimes when you're bowling no-balls you become aware of that and forget about what you're going to bowl. Because of that you sometimes don't bowl as quickly as you can do because you're compensating in an attempt not to overstep the mark.

"It does prey on your mind and when you're bowling to top-quality players like Gary Kirsten or Jacques Kallis and get them with a no-ball then that's a big disappointment."

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