The Ashes: Chris Tremlett's waiting game for England

If England's attack stutters in the Ashes, the Surrey quick tells Richard Edwards he is fit and ready to step in

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The Independent Online

While England's bowlers were being mauled by Sri Lanka at The Oval on Thursday Chris Tremlett was running in for Surrey at one of the country's most picturesque grounds, in Arundel.

It will not have escaped his attention that events on his home patch could leave him sitting pretty when the selectors convene to select a squad for the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge in just over three weeks' time.

Tremlett has not played for his country since England's Test defeat to Pakistan in Dubai in January last year but after back and knee surgery he's on the comeback trail once again.

England's chastening experience against the Sri Lankan top order in the Champions Trophy last week offered a reminder that this bowling attack can look ordinary if the ball doesn't swing.

Tremlett's pace allied to the awkward bounce he generates from his hulking 6ft 7in frame offers variety as well as threat.

To date, his county comeback has hardly demanded selection but an eight-wicket match haul against Derbyshire at the end of last month suggests he is finding the form which, for all too brief a period, made him one of the most dangerous bowlers in world cricket.

"I think it's coming together," he says. "I feel I'm getting back to bowling somewhere near my best. I just need a few catches to go to hand and to start getting the nicks again.

"The games come so fast during the season, it's just one game after another at the moment but the knee feels good. The body seems to have got better each game I've played. I struggled at the start, to recover and then back up spells the next day, but I think that's because I hadn't played for such a long time.

"There's still a little bit of soreness but generally things are looking pretty good. Each game I play I'm getting more confident and the body seems to be hardening up to four-day cricket and long days in the field."

That was particularly true at Guildford recently when Tremlett spent 168 overs watching Warwickshire compile an enormous 631 for 9 declared. England will hope to knock Australia's fragile top order over far more quickly than that when the main event of the summer begins on 10 July.

But although England's bowling line-up has a settled look to it – with Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Graeme Swann all likely to start the opening match at Trent Bridge – Tremlett knows that opportunities can present themselves during an Ashes series.

The former Hampshire man was handed the chance to establish himself in the England side after an injury to Broad in Australia two winters ago – and he grabbed it. Tremlett took 17 wickets in the series as England won on Australian soil for the first time since 1987, and he dismissed Michael Beer at Sydney to seal the deal.

Watching from the pavilion was Australia's then captain Ricky Ponting – a man who is now Tremlett's Surrey team-mate.

"Ricky has been great to have around," he says. "When Graeme Smith came in at the start of the season it gave the guys a big lift and now to have someone like Ricky is fantastic.

"In team meetings and seeing the way he goes about his work, the way he prepares, is brilliant for some of the young guys here.

"He came in at Derby and scored 190-odd – the only way they could get rid of him was to run him out. He really showed the way against Warwickshire as well when we really showed some guts to draw the game.

"He's a very impressive individual. Hopefully the Surrey guys will learn off him and when he goes back they can take away what he has done while he has been here.

"Personally, it's a bit surreal having him at slip shouting my name. The other day I went out to bat with him and although I only batted for five overs that's something I'll definitely remember."

Now, though, Tremlett needs to carry on jogging the memory of England coach Andy Flower, who has been in contact with Surrey and has been monitoring his recovery and progress on his return from injury.

"I know I'm in England thoughts. It's just up to me to make sure that I give myself the best chance possible of breaking back into the team," says Tremlett.

If England's bowling against Sri Lanka offers any indication, that might happen sooner rather than later.

Tremlett in numbers

2 Number of five-wicket Test hauls

17 Months since his last Test appearance

26.75 Tremlett's Test bowling average since his debut in July 2007

49 Wickets taken in his 11 Test matches