The amazing disappearing Tremlett

Friday night saw the return to first team cricket of Chris Tremlett, England’s 6’7″ monster (although one wonders whether he’s still 6’7″ after all of the back surgery). He took 3/19 and looked pretty solid after nearly six months out. But the winner of the award for ‘Cricketer Most Likely to Star in a Hammer Horror Film’ faces a long road back to the England fold. He’s only played three other second eleven T20s and is clearly being eased back into action, presumably for fear that his spine would completely disintegrate if he bowled more than four overs at a time. Now, neither of us have ever had back surgery and hopefully we’ll never need to (touching wood furiously) but we imagine it’s not the sort of thing that particularly lends itself to top class sport. Take Bunny Onions, England’s other bowler with a broom handle holding his back together. After his injury in 2010, it took him over a year to play any cricket, and two years to work his way back into the England setup.

Initially Tremlett set out to be back (for England) by the time the South Africa series started. Although it appears that he was not as crocked as Onions, even so he’ll need to be comfortably able to get through 20-25 overs in a day before Andy Flower et al will even think about getting him involved again. Now, the first Test against South Africa starts in less than a month. Call us mindless pessimists, but it’s going to be quite a serious step for him to be able to run in all day by then.

The other problem for Tremlett is that in his absence the valiant explorer Tim Bresnan has planted his flag atop the number three bowling spot. The Captain Scott and Edward Wilson to Bresnan’s Roald Amundsen are Finn and Onions, who are breathing down Mr Cheese Sandwich’s neck. Tremlett, you would imagine, has fallen behind all of these three in the pecking order and faces a pretty stiff task to jump back ahead of them.

A more realistic aim for him is to get picked for the tour of India. However, would England really take a punt on him if he hadn’t played any Test cricket before then? It’d require a bit of faith on the ECB’s part. If he’s deemed too much of a risk, he’s got some serious problems. He’ll have turned 31 by the start of the India series and (as we’ve mentioned before) not many England fast bowlers have had success once they’ve got to that sort of age. Although undoubtedly a fine bowler, England will have more than one eye on the future and you would have to think that Tremlett is not going to be around in four or five years time. Perhaps the only thing in his favour is the upcoming series (plural) against Australia, for which England will surely want an old head or two beyond Anderson and Broad.

We’re not saying that Tremlett is dead in the water, because he ain’t, but the next few months could shape his England future. If he takes wickets for Surrey over the next few weeks, his career could yet be shocked back into life (at least until his back falls apart again). We hope it does (the shock, not the falling apart), not least because what could have been a great career has already been so blighted by injury.

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