Brilliant Bresnan reaping his just rewards
Bresnan captured 5-85 against Warwickshire yesterday in a magnificent performance on day two at Headingley.
It was Bresnan’s sixth County Championship ‘five-for’ to go with one at Test level and one in one-day international cricket in what is his 381st appearance in first-class cricket/List A combined.
The relative lack of five-wicket hauls is something of an anomaly for a man whose value to Yorkshire and England is not always quantifiable in terms of wickets, but Bresnan believes there are reasons for that fact.
“The first reason is Darren Gough,” he laughed after Yorkshire scored 128-3 in reply to Warwickshire’s 435. “I spent a large portion of my career playing with ‘The Hoover’, and he had that habit of sweeping up the tail.
“The second reason is Adil Rashid, who’s been so good at getting the tail out for the last three or four years that if you don’t get your wickets in the top-six, it’s difficult. Seeing as Adil’s not here at the moment, there’s more opportunity to bowl at tail-enders.
“And the third reason is that, as third seamer, you never really get a crack.
“It’s difficult to pick up five wickets under those circumstances, but in this match, for example, I’ve opened the bowling.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about taking 10 wickets for the team and it doesn’t matter who gets them. Doing well for the team is the most important thing, and it was just nice to contribute on this occasion.”
Bresnan’s value to Yorkshire is best observed from another statistic. Last year, 26 of his 30 Championship wickets were top-order batsmen – the highest proportion of any bowler in either division who took at least 20 wickets. Bresnan’s ability to prise out key players is one of his biggest attributes, something that goes a long way to explaining why he has won 23 Test, 84 ODI and 34 T20 international caps.
At the age of 30, he is bowling and batting as well as ever and must harbour hopes of further England honours.
A first five-wicket haul since he took 5-81 against Gloucestershire at Bristol in May 2012 will do him no harm, and it was particularly impressive for the fact that the pitch is so lifeless it should really be sent for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
“It wasn’t easy out there,” said Bresnan, whose career-best is 5-42 against Worcestershire at New Road in 2005. “Hopefully the wickets will get a bit easier to bowl on as we get into the season, and a little bit more cricket-friendly too. I think the groundsman’s roller might end up on Gumtree tonight, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
“I’m feeling pretty good at the minute and the work I’ve done in the winter is hopefully paying off.”
That work boils down to not jumping out at the crease as much, which affords more accuracy and takes pressure off his body. Indeed, the only jumping Bresnan has been doing in this game is when he has been celebrating wickets.
After Warwickshire resumed on 270-4, Bresnan – who already had three wickets to his name – struck in the day’s fourth over when he bowled Pete McKay.
Rikki Clarke played a number of handsome shots on his way to 39, but Yorkshire should have removed him for 12.
Alex Lees dropped a low chance at first slip off Matthew Fisher with the total on 308-5, which denied Yorkshire a second bowling point in the penultimate over before the 110-over cut-off mark.
Clarke and Ian Westwood (151 overnight) had taken the score to 360 when Westwood’s fine innings came to an end half-an-hour before lunch, the left-hander falling for a career-best 196.
Westwood went lbw to James Middlebrook, for whom it was a maiden wicket on his return to Yorkshire colours.
Fisher finally got Clarke when he trapped him lbw with a full-length ball, and Warwickshire slipped to 404-8 shortly after lunch when Middlebrook bowled a sweeping Keith Barker.
Bresnan claimed his fifth wicket when Jeetan Patel spooned to mid-off after a jaunty 31, Middlebrook trapping Boyd Rankin lbw to finish with 3-96.
When Yorkshire replied, Lees and Will Rhodes added 41 before Lees perished right on the stroke of tea, lbw to Patel.
The off-spinner also accounted for Rhodes, who picked out mid-on to perish for his third successive score in the 40s.
Cheteshwar Pujara was controversially given out caught behind off Rankin, but Andrew Gale and Jack Leaning saw Yorkshire to stumps, needing a further 158 to avoid the follow-on.