Hungry Yorkshireman proves he has appetite to make it nine from nine
The big question in Tim Bresnan's early career was whether he had the hunger to reach the top. The penny has dropped, as his physique shows
There was never much doubt about Tim Bresnan's ability as a cricketer from the day he made his debut for Yorkshire as a 16-year-old, and all the friends, family, coaches and supporters that invested hope in his potential then would have especially enjoyed the ball with which he bowled Rahul Dravid here yesterday. Straightening enough off a perfect length to beat the outside edge of Dravid's defensive bat and clip off stump, it was the near-unplayable delivery of a quality Test bowler.
Yet the question mark that would not go away in Bresnan's early years concerned not so much whether he had the capacity to reach the top of his sport as whether he had the hunger.
It was a matter over which Martyn Moxon, the director of cricket at Yorkshire, would sometimes confront the player, even after he had broken into England's one-day side for the first time in 2006, five years on from his first appearance for his county.
Bresnan was strong and fit but had the chunky build of a lad who enjoyed a pint or two with his mates back in Castleford. Raised in rugby league country, he had a physique that made a career with the Tigers look likelier.
Moxon identified it quickly enough as symptomatic of the factor that was making it difficult for Bresnan, while an effective performer for Yorkshire, to fulfil his potential fully. "He was easily capable of making a good living from county cricket," Moxon said recently. "But he needed to realise that it wasn't going to just happen at international level."
The penny dropped in time and Bresnan developed a hunger to play for England that can be measured now in a trimmer, leaner model.
Bresnan made his Test debut against West Indies in 2009 and toured Bangladesh the following spring, but the big breakthrough came in Australia last winter, where he started the tour as fifth-choice seamer but became an Ashes winner when he replaced Steven Finn for the fourth Test at Melbourne, where his four second-innings wickets included the one that clinched the series. He claimed five more in the final Test at Sydney as England made it 3-1.
A calf injury ruled him out of the opening Test series against Sri Lanka this summer and he failed in his bid to unseat Stuart Broad in the opening Test of this series. Returning at Trent Bridge, however, after an injury to Chris Tremlett, he proved that he could sustain the breakthrough.
After an authoritative 90 in England's second innings, fashioned with the technical ability of a genuine all-rounder, Bresnan then secured his first five-wicket Test haul as India were bowled out for 158 and England won with a day to spare.
It meant Bresnan, like his captain Andrew Strauss, had ended his first eight Test matches on the winning side. It is difficult to imagine how he could have been left out here even had Tremlett recovered from the back and hamstring problems that caused his absence in Nottingham.
Yesterday it was his niggling accuracy, particularly in his first couple of spells, that brought him another four wickets and set England up to pursue another series-clinching victory.
It would leave him still six short of the record of Australia's Adam Gilchrist of winning his first 15 Tests but only one off that of the West Indian Eldine Baptiste, whose Test career reads 10 matches, 10 wins. You suspect, too, that unlike Baptiste Bresnan might have a few more caps to come.
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