Tremlett harbours first Test hopes
Chris Tremlett overcame an untimely throat infection to take four wickets today in the port city of Hobart and keep his name in the reckoning as a possible for the opening Ashes Test in Brisbane.
England have made it clear they intend to pick the front-line attack, rested for this final warm-up match against Australia A, once they start their Test campaign next week.
The absence of that quartet provided a chance, however, for Tremlett, fellow seamers Ajmal Shahzad and Tim Bresnan plus spinner Monty Panesar to push their claims too.
Tremlett, who took 4-54, was statistically the most successful as England bowled their hosts out for 230 after putting them in on a green Bellerive Oval surface, which provided for seam movement and occasional extra bounce.
Shahzad, who claimed 3-57, arguably bowled best of all. But either way, England could be satisfied with this first day of four - despite losing captain Andrew Strauss in their reply of 22 for one by stumps.
Tremlett certainly had plenty of reason to smile, having helped England reduce Australia A to 75 for five at lunch and then taken two more wickets to limit the home fightback - which came courtesy of half-centuries from all-rounders Steve Smith and Steve O’Keefe.
The 6ft 8in Surrey fast bowler’s ill health raised the prospect fleetingly this morning England might have to change their plans after all to send Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, James Anderson and Graeme Swann up to Brisbane early to acclimatise for that first Test.
Tremlett needed a last-minute fitness test, but was determined he was not going to miss his moment unless he had no choice in the matter.
“I had a bit of an infection, a bit of a temperature,” he said. “But I’ve been waiting a long time for an opportunity, so it wasn’t really going to stop me playing.
“I took a few pills and things and managed to get through the day. It would have taken a lot for me not to play.”
Tremlett has had his share of injuries since he last represented England more than three years ago, so it would have been a cruel twist had he missed out this time through illness.
Instead, he overcame the added complication of a blustery wind to locate a decent line - Shahzad found his bearings quicker - and bolstered his figures when he returned with the second new ball when he needed only one delivery to see off O’Keefe, caught behind trying to steal some extra runs alongside number 11 Peter George.
Tremlett’s first wicket came when his steepling bounce proved too much for opener Phil Hughes, and the seamer said: “When you come out to Australia and play on these wickets, you hope your attributes will play a part.
“Being 6ft 8in myself, and the others are very tall as well, that’s the plan - to intimidate guys and get in their faces a little bit.
“Everyone put their hand up; everyone got a couple of wickets, apart from Monty. But even though he didn’t get a wicket, he put the pressure on and bowled really well. I think as a group, it was a very good bowling performance.”
Tremlett made it clear too he has not given up on a place in the team for the Gabba.
“It is maybe not set in stone, the first-Test squad. “All you can do is when you get your opportunity, try your hardest - and you never know; you might have put your name in the hat.
“Getting some wickets builds your confidence - and if my opportunity does come along, my confidence will be high.”
Tremlett was wary of blowing his chance, after so long out of the team, but did not do so - and hopes he can soon be a part of what he has learned is a winning environment.
“I was quite nervous for the first couple of overs, because it was the first time I’ve been involved for a while.
“I haven’t been involved for a couple of years, and I have come in and noticed a difference in confidence within the side.
“I guess that comes from winning a lot of series, and a lot of games back to back.”
On a day when each of the batsmen included in Australia’s 17-man squad for the first Test fluffed their lines in Sheffield Shield matches, England also made short work of Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson - the two main Ashes aspirants in the A team.
Smith, who has just two Test caps so far, was therefore the only member of that 17 to further his claims.
He identified Shahzad as England’s most challenging bowler, but felt the touring attack as a whole perhaps did not quite get their lengths right.
“At stages, I thought England bowled a little bit too short,” he said. “They didn’t make me drive all that much - they probably can learn from that in the second innings.
“That’s the way I play. I like to go after the short ball quite a bit, and I happened to get a few away.”