Bresnan ruled out of tour opener
Andrew Strauss has confirmed England will be without seamer Tim Bresnan for the opening tour match in the United Arab Emirates from tomorrow.
Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett are therefore both in the reckoning to play against an International Cricket Council Combined Associate and Affiliate XI at Dubai Sports City, in a three-day match which begins England’s schedule at the start of their tour to play Pakistan.
However, Tremlett - who has an eye infection - took only a limited part in practice today as England went through a series of simulated match scenarios in the middle on the second ground at the ICC’s Global Cricket Academy.
Strauss acknowledges the minor inconvenience at least of having to get by without Bresnan, who missed this morning’s session.
“Tim Bresnan has still got a bit of swelling in his elbow as a reaction to his operation, so he’s not quite ready yet,” he said.
“In an ideal world, he’d be ready by now. But as is always the case with operations, you can’t be 100% sure how the recuperation is going to go.
The key date now for Bresnan is next Wednesday, when England face a Pakistan Cricket Board XI - with the first Test looming from January 17.
Strauss does not entirely subscribe to the theory that Bresnan must play against the PCB XI to be involved at the start of the Test series, but it will be at odds with England’s meticulous preparation to thrust him straight in without match practice.
“We’re very optimistic, because it’s certainly shown a lot of signs of calming down,” the captain said of Bresnan’s injury.
“We hope he’ll be able to play in that second warm-up game. I wouldn’t rule anything in or out, but it will obviously be quite important he gets a lot of bowling under his belt to prove he’s okay - whether that’s on or off the field.”
Before then, Tremlett, who might still have got the nod ahead of Finn in a three-man seam attack, could miss out on a chance to impress.
Strauss added: “Chris Tremlett has a bit of a sore eye at the moment, but that is nothing of great concern to us. It’s just niggles more than anything.
“We’ll probably just wait and see how he is a bit later on. But at this stage, we’ve got to take a slightly precautionary route on these sorts of things and thankfully we’ve got some fairly strong bowling resources.”
As for the task facing England here, tomorrow and beyond, Strauss reports conditions largely as envisaged.
“It looks a bit slower and lower than in England, so the bowlers will have to work a bit harder - but that’s why they get paid the big bucks,” he said.
“There is a great deal of enthusiasm and motivation to get amongst it, having had a good time off.
“We recognise the importance of making sure we get our intensity right, from the first ball that’s bowled in this tour. It’s a responsibility on all our shoulders to do that tomorrow morning.”
Strauss has had a longer break than many.
“I feel very refreshed. I’ve been chomping at the bit for the last three or four weeks,” he added.
“I’m excited to be back, and I think there’s a general feeling like that - like the first few days back at school.”
He knows, though, that England can expect a tough opener against opponents captained by Ireland’s Will Porterfield and containing several of the best Associate and Affiliate players.
He said: “They will be determined to rain on our parade.
“It’s something we always challenge all the players to do, try to use every game as an opportunity to get to Test match intensity.
“We don’t want to ease our way into tours. I think we’ve made that mistake in the past. I hope we’re beyond that now.”