Bresnan ready to deliver
Tim Bresnan has proved he has what it takes to see off top-order Australian batsmen, and will be ready to help England win the Ashes whenever they need him this winter.
Bresnan put himself on a hat-trick and ended with three wickets, including those of Australia A leading lights Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson, as England followed Ian Bell’s supreme batting with some incisive bowling at the Bellerive Oval.
The upshot, after Bell had made an imperious 192 from 275 balls and Bresnan had taken his match figures to 5-90, was a second-innings home total of 128 for three - with another 165 required if England are to bat again on the final day tomorrow.
Bell’s performance was indisputably the main event - described by Australia A opener Phil Hughes as “awesome” - but Bresnan took his chance to show what he can do too, operating as part of a back-up attack in the absence of the four bowlers expected to play in next week’s first Test and already in Brisbane to prepare early.
After ending an opening stand of 66 between Hughes and Ed Cowan when the latter dragged a pull on, he had number three Khawaja edging behind first ball and then bowled Ferguson with one that kept low.
His second two victims were named this week in Australia’s 17-man squad for the Gabba, but, after two failures each in this final Ashes warm-up match, they are in evident danger of missing the cut.
Yorkshire seamer Bresnan made it clear he takes no account of the reputations or aspirations of batsmen.
“I’m obviously pleased to get wickets but I don’t think it matters who they are,” he said.
Bresnan had to settle for two first-innings wickets while fellow pace bowlers Chris Tremlett and Ajmal Shahzad shared seven.
But he believes the important thing is that each one of them makes sure of being properly prepared if, as he and team director Andy Flower think likely, England need to use them against Australia at any point over the next two months.
“We’ll be working very hard. We’re not saying the final XI is picked yet,” Bresnan added.
“It’s going to be a tough winter for all concerned, and I think it’s going to be a massive squad effort to win this Ashes.
“Andy said the other day he’ll be very surprised if the same XI plays all five games. I will too, whether that be injury or form or anything else. You never know what can happen.
“We’ve been pushed to our limits, getting us ready for whatever can happen.”
Hughes and his team-mates faced a daunting task at the beginning of their second innings after Bell and Paul Collingwood had shared a sixth-wicket stand of 240 in England’s 523 all out.
He was very impressed with Bresnan. “I thought he bowled really well. To go bang, bang, bang like that is always a good sign,” said the left-hander, who ended the day unbeaten on 58.
“He bashed the wicket away all day and he was very consistent with his lines.”
A pitch which started the match full of green tinges and providing plenty of help for the seamers appeared to flatten out after the first day.
But as Australia A began to lose second-innings wickets, variable bounce was becoming a factor.
“One shot, and a couple of others kept very low,” added Hughes. “But Bresnan still bowled straight.
“I thought Tremlett bowled quite good lines as well. But when Bresnan came on and took those three wickets, that was the stand-out.”
Hughes has noted England’s confidence here, and expects them to be just as buoyant when the first-choice attack returns in Brisbane next week.
“They’re going to be fired-up and aren’t going to back down, with momentum behind them, and it’s going to be a great contest for the Australian batsmen,” he predicted.
“The way England are playing, there is no doubt they are going to be confident.”
He anticipates England will also plan to test Australia captain Ricky Ponting with the short ball, against which he seems to have become vulnerable.
Hughes is convinced too, though, that Ponting will deal with any barrage that comes his way.
“I’m sure they will [bowl bouncers at Ponting],” he said. “But the stats tell you he’s a unbelievable player, without a doubt one of the best I’ve seen.
“I’m sure Ricky will play beautifully through the Ashes series.”