Fairytale return for Tremlett the big friendly giant

  • @stephenbrenkley

The Gentle Giant came back yesterday and let his bowling do the talking. With nary a sledge or a snarl in sight, Chris Tremlett provided England with a perfect beginning to the third Test.

Three years after being discarded following three Test matches against India, Tremlett came back into the team as a replacement for the injured Stuart Broad. Injury and poor form have played their part in his subsequent non-selection but it was an open secret that many inside cricket felt Tremlett was simply too nice.

But from his first over yesterday, the second of the match, he demonstrated that his other credentials were what mattered. It was an extremely adept piece of fast bowling and if he was given every assistance to make sure it was effective by Australia's left-handed opening batsman, Phillip Hughes, that did not diminish its quality.

Tremlett let Hughes have some short stuff early in the over and then bowled him one of much fuller length which went through a crooked bat and bowled him. It was as if Hughes had predicted his own downfall. Only two days earlier he had said that it was often not the bouncers which got him but the follow-up ball. So it proved.

The demeanour of the Gentle Giant was in stark contrast to the man with whom he shared the new ball, Jimmy Anderson. While Tremlett gives the impression that he might be about to ask the opposition batsmen if the wife and kids are all right, Anderson does not do niceties. He is perpetually on their case, as he showed yesterday when, having dismissed Brad Haddin, he turned in the direction of Mitchell Johnson at the non-striker's end and put his finger to his lips in shushing motion.

Although Tremlett finished with a serviceable 3 for 63 from 23 overs, it was the splendid opening spell that marked his day. He admitted that he awoke yesterday feeling extremely nervous, for he must have thought his international career had been and gone. England had played 41 Tests since his last appearance.

Only Broad's abdominal injury, which has ruled him out of the rest of the tour, has allowed Tremlett his opportunity. "There has been a little bit of frustration along the way but I have worked hard to get back where I want to be," said Tremlett. "I moved to Surrey last year and enjoyed things there. My aspiration was always to play for England again.

"People can say what they want about my temperament but I think it comes from within. If you want something badly enough you work out what to do, and I think I have figured that out over the years."

The fear was that Broad would be missed more than England were allowing themselves to say. Although he had taken only two wickets in the opening two Test matches before breaking down he had played a significant enforcement role. He had kept the batsmen honest.

Tremlett, always in possession of natural assets of height and accuracy which make a worrisome fast bowler, seems to have added other elements to his game during the long absence.

"It was a combination of having a few injuries, my body letting me down and things not going quite the way I wanted," he said. "I always wanted to play for England but it has taken a bit of time to get back to where I wanted to be. I have grown up a bit, I am more experienced as a cricketer. I know my game a lot more. I just think I'm a better bowler than I was three years ago. I feel fitter than ever, as strong as ever and I'm very happy with my action which is as repetitive as it has ever been."

The crowd, packed with England supporters, did the Gentle Giant's roaring for him. He did the rest. "That was the most special game I have played in so far," he said. "It was an amazing atmosphere and a very enjoyable day."