Monday, 26 June 2006

Remember me?

With England currently experiencing an injury crisis like no other in recent years can the seemingly forgotten Chris Tremlett of Hampshire County Cricket Club shake off a string of injuries and stake a claim for a regular place in the England team?

Standing at 6foot 7inches tall, Tremlett has the ideal natural attributes for a fast bowler. Although not of the pace of Stephen Harmison, the son of Hampshire director and former county seamer Tim Tremlett and grandson of Somerset and England player Maurice Tremlett, shares much in common with the Durham pace bowler.

Like Harmison, Tremlett has the height and action to trouble the world’s best, but also like Harmison, his aggression levels are not always there, something which held Tremlett back until his breakthrough season in 2005 when he was thrust into the England One Day International side for the Natwest Series against both Australia and Bangladesh. In his three limited overs appearances thus far Tremlett has averaged 22.20 with the ball and has struck every 29.20 deliveries with an economy rate of 4.56. Such figures are incidentally almost identical to his figures in List A cricket.

Having joined a select few players in taking a wicket with his first ball on first class debut against New Zealand A in 2000, Tremlett ended with match figures of 4 for 16, most impressive indeed. He went on to gradually progress in Hampshire’s team and also through the England U19 ranks. Then in 2004, after a fruitful start to the season, Tremlett was named in the preliminary England squad for the ICC Champions Trophy on home soil.

Although he failed to make an appearance during England’s most successful One Day International campaign in recent years, he was at the beginning of 2005 named in the 25 man England development squad.

Given his chance against Bangladesh later that summer in the Natwest Series, Tremlett impressed and was famously denied a hat trick when bowling to Mohammad Ashraful. The perfect ball to an incoming batsman caught an inside edge and landed plum centre on the top of the bails above middle stump. The ball ricocheted off with the bails failing to be removed though. However Tremlett had done enough to suggest that he could go on to be an international bowler of some class and he was to play two more One Day Internationals against Australia and Bangladesh respectively until Simon Jones returned from injury to rightfully take his place in the Ashes winning side.

Having been named as 12th man for the first four Ashes encounters, when Jones was struck down by injury during the fourth Test at Trent Bridge it was somewhat ironic that James Anderson, a veteran of many a Test match as 12th man, to the detriment of his promising career, was called up in place of Tremlett to be considered along with Paul Collingwood for the deciding rubber.

Tremlett went on to finish the season with Hampshire playing a role in the C&G Trophy winning campaign and helping his county to second spot in the County Championship Division One, after a dubious arranged declaration from David Fulton’s Kent. Plagued by a slight discomfort throughout the backend of the season Tremlett did not enjoy the same kind of form as he had done at the start of the year though. Nevertheless his performances over the season were deemed promising enough by England’s selectors to merit a place in the squad to tour Pakistan during the winter.

Unfortunately for Tremlett though, the discomfort in his hamstring, which he had been taking cortisone injections to negate, turned out to be more serious than initially believed and he was ruled out of that tour to Pakistan as well as the later tour of India. Then at the start of the current domestic season Tremlett was again ruled out by yet further set backs in his recovery from surgery, crucially breaking down in the County Championship game against Sussex.

Only recently returned to full fitness, Tremlett is still finding his rhythm and form, having had some inconsistent spells of bowling since his comeback. He has still managed to average 25.53 with the ball though in the County Championship, taking 15 wickets with best figures of 4 for 43. Such figures compare with his career average of 26.40 and strike rate of 47.68. On his one appearance in the C&G Trophy against Ireland he returned figures of 1 for 39 from ten overs.

The Hampshire bowler has gradually been improving and now that the most un-fast bowler friendly game in cricket is over for Hampshire for another year, he can focus on his County Championship and Pro 40 performances over the coming weeks and months. If he can once again show his early season form of 2004 and 2005 then Chris Tremlett must surely travel to Australia in November to provide able cover for England’s injury prone bowling unit. If he is to break into the England team and sustain his place however, he will have to demonstrate more aggression when facing the opposition.

Whilst England’s bowlers continue to go round on the injury merry-go-round though, the latest victim being Liam Plunkett, it is encouraging to know that there are players out there of the ability of Chris Tremlett who are eagerly awaiting their next appearance for England. With the latest injury to the talismanic Freddie Flintoff set to rule him out of the current Test match series against Pakistan as well as the upcoming One Day Internationals and the experiments with Sajid Mahmood and Kabir Ali seemingly failed for the time being, Tremlett may yet get the chance to impress upon us all his undoubted ability to be a quality international bowler sooner rather than later, along with the returning James Anderson.

Chris Pallett

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