Jamie and Tim - boys to men

Two unheralded newcomers battle heroically to fill the Flintoff vacuum
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The Independent Online

There were moments to remember and moments to forget, but Jamie Dalrymple and Tim Bresnan both received good reports from the captain. "The question was whether Jamie could make the step up and he showed he can," said Andrew Strauss. And Bresnan? "He showed some guts and a good gameplan with the bat."

For each of them, the first big thing was getting picked. Both must have been surprised and both would probably accept that they were playing because of Andrew Flintoff's dodgy ankle. They took his positions - Dalrymple batting at No 6 and Bresnan coming on first change - without ever taking his place.

For Bresnan, 21, a fast-medium bowler from Pontefract in Yorkshire, it was his first cap. Dalrymple had worn the uniform just once, earlier in the week, against Ireland in Belfast.

They cannot have had any illusions. Both were picked because of their promise. Neither is feeding greedily in a purple patch. Both have played only a couple of innings in one-day games this summer, each scoring 70-odd. Dalrymple has been useful with the ball, taking seven wickets with his off-spin at 23. Bresnan's bowling has been less well rewarded - he averages 41.83, which almost exactly replicates his bowling average in his 37 first-class matches.

But Dalrymple will recall his batting long after he forgets his five-over spell. He says he is 6ft but doesn't look it, perhaps because he looks a head shorter than most of his colleagues. His stance is compact, his dibs and dabs are delicate, and he drives strongly into the covers. He even sweeps Murali. He came in when England were in dire straits on 66 for 4, and put on 72 in 92 balls before Marcus Trescothick was dismissed.

Bresnan joined him with the score on 172 for 6, and they tried manfully to raise the scoring rate. By the time Dalrymple equalled Trescothick's 67, with five fours, the match was beyond England's grasp. The new boys put on 36, mostly in singles, until Bresnan tried to slog the ball out of the ground and was bowled. Theirs was a better performance than most of the established batsmen.

Dalrymple toured the West Indies with the A team, but was thought to have attracted less attention with the English management than Alex Loudon, but Middlesex showed faith in him, deciding to rely on his off-spin rather than importing an overseas specialist for the summer.

He came on in the 18th over after Sri Lanka had feasted on England's opening attack. Bowling in tandem with Paul Collingwood, the run-rate came under control, even after Dalrymple generously over-flighted a ball to Mahela Jayawardene which soared over long-on for six. He had no luck. In his previous over, an off-break had turned sharply down the slope having drawn Upul Tharanga out of his crease, but Geraint Jones fumbled the ball and the chance to remove the centurion on 59 was lost.

Dalrymple missed his own chance to run out Tharanga when he dropped the ball as he was breaking the wicket. At the end of the over, Jones failed to show the generosity customary in this team of chums.

Dalrymple must have felt miserable. But not half as bad as Bresnan after the last over of Sri Lanka's innings, which looked like a scene from a rare delight called The Marx Brothers Go to Lord's. Bresnan bowled a better line and length than his fellow fast bowlers and got his first international wicket when he bowled Chamara Kapugedera. At the start of his last over, he had taken 1 for 34, then the farce began: dot ball, then a couple, then Dilhara Fernando ran a single that would have been suicidal had Bresnan's throw from five yards broken the wicket.

Next came a wide, then a second disaster as Fernando joined Muttiah Muralitharan at the batsman's crease. All Jones had to do was throw the ball to Bresnan, but it went over the poor lad's head. Fernando survived.

The over finished with three leg byes and a no ball, Bresnan's contribution to 42 extras, the most in England's one-day international history. That will be the part he will wish to forget.

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