The name of Tim Bresnan was officially added to England’s Ashes on Monday. It was accompanied by the information that he is available for selection, leading to the inevitable conjecture that he will indeed be selected for the second Test starting on Thursday.
England like Bresnan and there is plenty to like. Of his 21 Test matches they have lost only two and he has frequently made small but telling interventions. Recovery from his back injury is one thing, however, and match fitness another.
But between now and the end of this series there is no time for him to gain match fitness since the only matches remaining on this leg of the tour are Tests. It is logical to conclude that England would not have included him if they had no intention of playing him.
The Adelaide Oval may not necessarily be the most appropriate arena for his return and Australia have been preparing for the possibility that their opponents will field two spinners. That would be a gamble which would almost certainly preclude Bresnan’s presence but England, who did not get where they are today by being reckless, might have to do something out of the ordinary.
Australian players, like all other observers, are captivated by the puzzle of who England will move to No 3 to take the place of Jonathan Trott. Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson’s partner in menace, said they would prefer Ian Bell.
“It’s a great loss with Trotty not there,” said Harris. “ Hopefully it will be Bell in there early as it will give us a chance to get him out.”
The name of Trott will not form part of the sledging battle. There is a genuine concern for his well-being after he returned home a week ago with a stress-related illness and that is shared by the players of both sides.
Harris said: “Jonathan has gone now. I will be disappointed if anyone brings that up. It is not a nice thing he is going through. All the boys who have commented on it have said we want Jonathan Trott back playing cricket. The whole world does.
“I know the England team does because he is one of their best players and we want to play against their best team. He has made a big decision to go home and I would love to see him back playing soon. I had some great battles with him over in England and I was looking forward to continuing that here. Hopefully he gets back playing as soon as possible. The England team needs him but world cricket needs him because he is a world-class player.”
That was an encomium sincerely felt and delivered by a splendid bowler and decent man. From Thursday the players will be trying their darndest and they will have many words to say to each other. But there is a line they should not and will not cross as all of them know how tough it is out there.