Chris Tremlett believes he has shed his “gentle giant” tag once and for all after producing a fierce spell of bowling on his return to the England team that helped dismiss Australia for 268 at the WACA today.
Tremlett was playing only his fourth Test and his first Test since the summer of 2007, but after stepping into the team to replace the injured Stuart Broad the Surrey man looked immediately at home, taking three for 63 and finishing as the best of the tourists’ attack. After Tremlett and the bowlers had done their work, captain Andrew Strauss - who won the toss - and Alastair Cook guided England to 28 without loss at the end of day one.
Tremlett is 6ft 7ins and can bowl faster than 90mph, but his career has been affected by his lack of aggression towards the batsman, a quality many believed had prevented him from becoming a regular in the England team.
But after proving his mettle on one of the biggest stages in cricket, Tremlett claims he is a new man.
“People can say what they want - gentle giant or whatever - but when I get the ball in my hand I try to be aggressive and positive in the way I bowl,” said the 29-year-old.
“You could say what you like about my temperament, but if you want something badly enough, you work out what you need to do, and I have figured it out over the years. I try to use my height to intimidate batsmen, and I hope I did that today.
“I’ve grown up a bit, I’m more experienced as a cricketer, I know my game a lot more and I just think I’m a better bowler than I was three years ago. My plan was go in there and show people what I could do, be consistent and do what I’ve been doing for Surrey.
“The opportunity has come for me to play in Perth on a wicket with pace and bounce, and hopefully it’s proved to be the right selection. All I’ve wanted to do is play for England, but it’s just taken a bit of time to get back to where I want to be.
“I feel fitter than ever, as strong as ever and my action is as good as it has ever been. This is the most special game I’ve played in so far - an amazing atmosphere and a very enjoyable day. I was nervous this morning but once I got the ball in my hand, I felt fine.”
Tremlett’s aggression was matched by a number of his team-mates on another fiery day of Ashes cricket. Jimmy Anderson and Mitchell Johnson were chirping at each other throughout Johnson’s innings of 62, and the Aussie bowler also exchanged words with the England openers as the players left the field.
But it was England’s day once again. Anderson also took three wickets, one of them Ricky Ponting, who fell to an outstanding one-handed catch at third slip from Paul Collingwood.
The only concern for Strauss’ team was the fitness of some players. Both Steve Finn (calf) and Kevin Pietersen (hamstring) spent time off the field having treatment during the afternoon, and although the official line is that there are no problems, these are clearly matters to be wary of with back-to-back Tests in Melbourne and Sydney following this one.
As he has done throughout this series, Mike Hussey held together Australia’s top order with 61 after they had been 69 for five at one stage. Brad Haddin and Johnson then made half-centuries before the home team added 67 for the final two wickets to reach a respectable total.
The WACA is Hussey’s home ground and he is confident that Australia’s total puts them well in the game.
He said: “I’ve played in quite a few Tests here where the first-innings totals have been in the mid-200s, so tomorrow will tell the tale about whether our score was below par.
“Four years ago, we were bowled out for a similar total here but managed to bowl England out for less than that. It’s a pitch that will aid us so if we can bowl well and hang on to a few brilliant catches, I’m quietly confident we can get back into the match.”
Tom Collomosse is the cricket correspondent for the Evening Standard.