England on tenterhooks as Tremlett faces fitness test
Hamstring injury makes Ashes hero a doubt for second Test so able deputy Bresnan is on standby
To general lack of surprise, the England fast bowler, Chris Tremlett, failed to train yesterday ahead of the second Test. With equal expectancy, the team management tried to make light of the break, presumably trying to forestall suggestions that he may be doubtful for the eagerly-awaited encounter with India which starts at Trent Bridge tomorrow.
The official line that Tremlett was "managing his workload" certainly made it difficult to drum up evidence that he is in serious trouble. But then Tremlett would be a serious miss.
Excellently though he bowled at Lord's, especially on the final day when he might easily have had more than his one wicket as England won by 196 runs, he was struggling at times. When he strode back to his mark he often rubbed the back of his leg and briefly left the field. The official reason is that he has a tight hamstring.
In a few short months, Tremlett has become one of the first names on the England team sheet. A reserve when he was picked in the squads to tour Australia last winter, having been overlooked for more than three years, he came back an Ashes hero, an authentic hit-the-deck-and-make-them-squirm fast bowler and a character transformed from the one who once might have fallen down in a breeze.
His absence seems improbable unless England feel they can take no chances with such a delicate part of the speed merchant's anatomy. It would be a test of their strength in depth and Tim Bresnan, who is in the squad of 12, should be an able replacement. What he would not provide is Tremlett's disconcerting bounce.
Jimmy Anderson, who took 5 for 65 in the second innings at Lord's and is now 10th on the all-time list of England Test wicket-takers, reflected yesterday on the potency of the bowling attack.
"We talk about it before, the plan is to create pressure and stop them scoring and you can't do that if one guy's doing it from one end and the other guy is going for four an over," he said. "I don't think it matters who you bowl with. You saw Tim Bresnan do a good job of it in Australia. I think it's the fact we've used six or seven bowlers the last few years, we're used to playing with each other and spending time with each other and we do talk a lot about the game when we're not playing together so I think it doesn't really matter who plays."
Anderson now has 226 Test wickets and may easily overtake Darren Gough (229), Andrew Caddick (234) and Alec Bedser (236) by the end of this series to move into seventh position in the England all-time rankings. But having come back from serious injury early in his career, Anderson knows nothing comes easily.
"Especially as a bowler you never know when your next injury is going to come. I've seen people get horrible injuries that shorten their careers, I've seen Simon Jones, he easily could have got 300 Test wickets and unfortunately his career has been shortened by injury. So you've got to enjoy each time you go out on the field for England."
Anderson has also assumed the No 2 position in the world Test bowling standings. Though he would like to be No 1, he felt that his recent elevation had offered something of much greater significance.
"Not as important as overtaking Swanny, that is what I was focused on!" he said. And for once Graeme Swann who now resides at No 3 was not around to give his opinion. Dale Steyn of South Africa remains well ensconced at No 1.
These are exhilarating times to be an England cricketer. "We saw five days of a ground sold out at Lord's, that's exciting in itself – there's not been many day fives in Test matches in England sold out in recent years," said Anderson. "Hopefully people are getting excited about it because we're certainly getting excited about it."
Anderson at Trent Bridge
* In four Tests in Nottingham, England's king of swing has taken 28 wickets at an average of just 15.89, including four five-wicket hauls.
* His best innings figures are 7 for 43, against New Zealand in 2008.
His best match figures are 11 for 71, against Pakistan last year.
* The Lancashire bowler's Test economy rate at the ground is just 2.87 runs per over and his strike rate is a superb 33.1 balls per wicket.
* Anderson is fourth in the list of Test match wicket-takers at the ground, behind Shane Warne (29) and Fred Trueman (33), and Alec Bedser (41) – and he has a superior bowling average to all those above him.
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