Tremlett's back injury puts England role on ice

Fragile fast bowler has to sit out practice session as latest niggle raises fears for his long-term future

Abu Dhabi

Among the masses of kit that England carry around with them they should pack an infinite supply of cotton wool balls. In these each night, and any time he was not playing, could be wrapped the fast bowler Chris Tremlett.

Not for the first time in his career, Tremlett was yesterday withdrawn from consideration for a Test team after his stiff back declined to loosen up in time for the second match of this series against Pakistan. Tremlett's giant, sculptured body has proved almost permanently fragile and this latest niggle raises doubts about his long-term future as an international fast bowler.

He has played only 11 Tests since being regularly 12th man in the 2005 Ashes series and the disappointment at his perennial absences must be compounded by the fact that he has usually been outstanding, with his 6ft 8in frame rolling rhythmically into the crease. Recalled after more than three years in the Ashes last winter, he played a key role in securing the series victory and took 17 wickets in three matches including the last of all at Sydney to confirm the 3-1 win.

Tremlett has taken 49 wickets at 26.76 since making his debut against India in 2007 and in only one innings – in the first Test of this series – has he failed to take a wicket. His injury woes around the England team began in late 2005 when he had to pull out of tours to Pakistan and India to have surgery on his hip and knee.

By last summer, it seemed at last that he was here to stay. But he sustained a hamstring injury at Lord's against India and then suffered a back spasm before the second Test at Trent Bridge which kept him out of the rest of the series.

His absence was not officially notified yesterday but since he spent England's practice session sitting rather uncomfortably on an ice box, the conclusion was easy to draw. Steve Finn bowled in the same net as Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad and it looked as if his Test career was set to resume.

England went into the match well aware that prising a victory in the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium to level the series at 1-1 would be the tallest of orders. The only two previous Tests on the ground have both been draws with only 54 of the available 80 wickets being taken.

This must have at least encouraged the England captain, Andrew Strauss, about his chances of making runs. With only one hundred in his last 42 Test innings and with his average heading south, he needs a substantial score.

Nobody should consider that his place in the team is remotely in doubt, or that his authority has been diminished one iota, but it is becoming an issue. Strauss seemed relaxed as usual during his pre-Test briefing yesterday and mused on combining the responsibilities of batting with those of captain, which have been around for as long as the game has been played.

"It can work both ways," he said. "You're obviously busier and you've got a lot of other things on your mind but sometimes that's not a bad thing as a batsman. Over-analysing your game and getting too concerned by technical worries or whatever can put you in a bad place mentally. But generally I've found being captain has helped my game and hopefully that'll continue to be the case."

Strauss still averages more than 40 since assuming the captaincy three years ago this month, but since the start of last summer it has fallen to 23. He is not about to restructure his game.

He said: "I think maybe when you're young and naive you're always looking for that magic answer so you'll be changing your technique, you'll be trying different things in the nets. I think when you're a bit older you realise the best thing to do is to keep everything the same, keep your preparation the same, don't have too many concerns about your technique and make sure you watch the ball.

"I think that's the best recipe for doing well but it's always a challenge mentally. Anyone who is under any illusion that Test match cricket gets any easier as you get older is wrong, it's always tough but I suppose that's why they call it Test cricket." Indeed they do, as England will rediscover over the next few days.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific