Champagne moment at last for England's drinks carrier

James Tredwell feels bowling aggressively helped him make the most of his rare one-day chance, reports Stephen Brenkley

For most of the winter, James Tredwell has been a faintly jocular figure. Prematurely balding, slight of stature, diffident, utterly unobtrusive, he was the forgotten man of England's stuttering World Cup campaign.

Newcomers to the scene could have been forgiven for thinking that the man perpetually in a green bib, carrying drinks, was a lesser member of England's back-room staff. Maybe, since there seems to be a functionary for everything else, he had indeed been appointed as official drinks carrier.

Nobody is laughing now. Two nights ago, Tredwell saved England in the World Cup. If he were never to play again he would always have Chennai, 17 March 2011: four wickets in a match the side had to win, or be eliminated. Called up to play almost as an act of desperation – there really was nowhere else to turn – he had appeared in three previous one-day internationals and taken precisely zero wickets. Nothing suggested that his off-spin, weaned on the pitches of Kent, would play more than a peripheral, pedestrian role. Detecting signs of movement in Tredwell's bowling would sometimes require the assistance of optical devices as yet not invented.

His planned entrance was delayed. Andrew Strauss, England's captain, had been intending to introduce him to the attack earlier. But he changed his mind. Chris Gayle, the swashbuckling Jamaican, was laying waste to England's bowlers and Strauss turned instead to the fast bowler, Chris Tremlett. It was a question of trust.

When Gayle climbed into Tremlett, it really was time for Tredwell. It was Tredwell or bust and nobody could have though that. Pitching him against Gayle in this rampant mood was the fly and the elephant. When Gayle swatted him for four over mid-wicket it was possible to fear the worst. He was scoring at two runs a ball. What kind of contest was this where the coolest dude on planet cricket, the pinch hitter from Jamaica, was being served up pies by a chap who has the air and appearance of an auditor's clerk?

Tredwell, 29, pitched one up which moved off the straight a fraction. Gayle played forward, missed the ball and was struck on the pad. He was out lbw and the West Indies' gallop was stopped.

"It was a huge relief to get Gayle," said Tredwell yesterday as England left Chennai, the scene of their last ditch 18-run win against the West Indies, to spend a few days in Delhi where they will await their fate in the tournament. "He could have quite easily kept going there and it could have been finished in 30 overs so to have got him out was a massive wicket for us.

"I just tried to attack it as a no-lose situation. If I got him out then it's happy days, if he smacked me round the ground then that's what he was doing anyway. We decided to defend the straight boundaries and hopefully make him play across the line which he did once. Maybe that made him play a bit straighter and he got hit on the pad."

Two more wickets followed quickly. But he was not finished yet. When a young buccaneer called Andre Russell, a former footballer and sprinter in only his second match, was again threatening to take the game away from England in true Caribbean style, Tredwell was brought back and persuaded him across his off stumps to be lbw.

Tredwell has been following England's one-day squad around for a year or so now. They kept faith with him despite a low-key season in 2010. He is the sort of cricketer who is good to have around because he trains well and takes his non-playing duties seriously. He suffers by comparison with the side's ebullient premier off-spinner, Graeme Swann.

Nothing that Tredwell had shown in his three previous matches, all spaced well apart, suggested he could match Swann's charisma or skill. He is simply a quieter man. Maybe he embodies the continuing dearth of slow bowling resources in England but it is not his fault that he is the second best for the one-day arena.

If being on the road for so long affects all cricketers at some point, it must be harder for these fringe players, forever waiting for a game, never sure what they can do to get one and still trying to be part of the team. Tredwell's wife Beth, sister of his Kent colleague Geraint Jones's wife, is expecting their first child in June. Tredwell was summoned eventually not because of anything he did but what those in the team had failed to do.

England, fitful throughout the competition, had lost matches to Ireland and Bangladesh that they should have won. Lose against the West Indies and they were definitely going home early for the fifth consecutive World Cup. They introduced three players – Tredwell, Tremlett and Luke Wright – who had not previously appeared in the competition. It was not a move based on some far-sighted strategy.

But Tredwell's freshness, eagerness and lack of cricket undoubtedly helped. Gayle is magnificent to watch in full flow but there is a swagger about him. When he saw the little chap from Kent, it is not difficult to assume what he thought.

"I think not taking a wicket in my previous games did increase the pressure, certainly on myself," said Tredwell. "I thought that might never come having played a few games and probably not done as well as I would have liked.

"I have tried to use my time here, not necessarily my frustrations, but my time, to improve as a cricketer and hopefully when the chance does come I can perform and hopefully that stood me in really good stead.

"That frustration does come in that you're not playing but equally there's people in front of you that have performed consistently as well. So you have to take it on the chin and I try to do everything I can to try to help the lads out in the middle. That's as important as playing sometimes."

England must await the result of the matches between South Africa and Bangladesh today and perhaps between India and West Indies tomorrow. If Bangladesh and West Indies win, England could still be eliminated on net run rate. But that is unlikely now and it is the pale, unassuming figure of Tredwell who has made it so. Having waited so long he does not deserve his World Cup to finish as soon as it started.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss