IF Tim Bresnan was a stick of seaside rock, that rock would have the word “Yorkshire” running right through it.
Few have embodied the county’s cricketing values more than the former England all-rounder.
Now aged 35, Bresnan has taken the difficult decision to leave the club after 19 years of distinguished service.
Amid uncertainty over what contracts Yorkshire can offer, and what they can afford in the current climate, he has chosen to seek pastures new in what has been described as an amicable departure; his own deal expired at the end of this year.
Where Bresnan goes next remains to be seen; “there is still plenty of fire in my belly,” he says.
Perhaps, like Matthew Hoggard, his former Yorkshire team-mate, he can find a new lease of life as Hoggard did at Leicestershire.
But wherever he ends up – and he will surely set his sights as high as possible – Bresnan will hope to finish his career with a bang.
Surely there is a county which could benefit from the skills of “Brezzy lad” – a nickname, like “Hoggy”, that is Yorkshire through and through.
Although he started his career in 2001, playing only one-day cricket in a year in which Yorkshire won the County Championship for the first time since 1968, Bresnan will always be remembered for his efforts for the club in 2016.
In the final match of that season, as Yorkshire chased a hat-trick of Championships, he near single-handedly kept them in the hunt with a brilliant performance against Middlesex at Lord’s.
After a first innings bowling analysis of 23-7-48-3, typically solid Bresnan-like figures, he scored an unbeaten 142 in a near seven-hour innings.
Not only did it help Yorkshire to a vital bonus point that they needed to stay in the race, it also helped them to chisel out a lead of 120.
Just for good measure, Bresnan top-scored with 55 in the second innings but Yorkshire – set 240 to win in 40 overs – could not quite pull off a dramatic win, dismissed for 178 in a thrilling chase.
And so Bresnan’s greatest performance in a Yorkshire shirt – in Championship cricket at least – can be filed under the heading “heroic failure”.
There is something Bresnan-like about that too – not because one does not equate him with success (on the contrary, although never an out-and-out “match-winner”, he had a funny habit of helping to win matches).
No, it was because that performance showed Bresnan at his bullish, belligerent, brilliant best, a display that said to Middlesex: “You may end up beating us in this game and pipping us to the title, but only over my dead body.”
It was a rearguard appreciated by everyone who saw it.
But then he was always something of an under-rated batsman, this lad who came into a star-studded Yorkshire line-up back in the day and soaked up the wisdom from all directions.
One remembers his career-best 169 not out against Durham at Chester-le-Street in 2015, for instance, when he shared in what remains the highest seventh-wicket stand in a first-class game in England, adding an unbroken 366 with Jonny Bairstow.
One remembers, too, many big-hitting cameos or backs-to-the-wall efforts, whether in the colours of Yorkshire or England, for Bresnan can certainly “hit a long ball”, as they say in the trade, as well as bowl “a heavy ball”.
Had he not been such an accomplished bowler – under-rated, again, given the galaxy of talent that England could summon at the time – he would have had more opportunity to focus on his batting and his statistics, no doubt, would be better than they are.
Statistics, however, are not the currency by which Bresnan’s influence is best assessed.
In first-class cricket, for example, he averages 28 with the bat and 30 with the ball; he has taken nine five-wicket hauls in 199 appearances, with a best return of 5-28.
Judge Bresnan on those numbers and, although presentable, you might miss the fact that he has been something rather more than the sum of those figures, overlook that he has stepped up when his team have most needed him to.
He is cricket-smart and reads the game instinctively; when the battle is on, he is the sort of bloke that you want in the team.
Although you wouldn’t always have picked him on statistics alone, he’d often be one of the first names on the team-sheet for the reasons adduced.
The trenches analogy is somewhat over-used in the sporting context, and perhaps inappropriately so, but Bresnan has invariably come to the fore in those moments when the enemy fire is raging all around; qualities such as his are the precious glue in any successful side.
Among the secrets of England’s success when Bresnan helped them to two Ashes wins and a World T20 title, indeed, appeared to be – at least from the outside – that most of them were close mates who stuck up for each other when the going got tough.
There must have been something wonderfully reassuring for the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and co whenever they saw Bresnan charging into bowl, knowing full well that his Herculean efforts and determination would never falter no matter the pressure, conditions and match situation.
Another fact easy to miss about Bresnan is that he can turn his hand to all cricketing challenges.
Although often portrayed as a workhorse figure, a straight-talking, broad-shouldered, uncomplicated Yorkshireman, he has a proven track record in all three formats and has been in demand on the T20 franchise circuit.
Another of his standout displays for Yorkshire, indeed, was when he claimed club record T20 figures of 6-19 against Lancashire in 2017.
“Knee sliding at 32,” he joked of his memorable celebrations on that rainy night at Headingley; Bresnan has always been armed with a quip or two.
His versatility is perhaps his greatest asset, along with the fact that you always know what you are going to get from him.
Indeed, across first-class, one-day and T20 cricket combined, Bresnan has taken 1,040 wickets and scored 11,528 runs.
Throw in 233 catches as well – he has always had excellent hands – and perhaps those are the statistics that are best worth noting.
Bresnan has certainly pulled his weight in the field despite being described in the 2012 Wisden as having “the air of a man with an emergency cheese sandwich in his back pocket”.
That was a light-hearted line as opposed to a criticism, however, for he is deceptively fit given his strength and power – more so, it is said, after some rigorous training in recent times.
He has not always been the most fortunate with injuries; elbow operations took a cruel toll over the years, threatening his nip with the ball but never completely dampening his spirits.
For Bresnan has always played with a twinkle in his eye – humour never far from the fiercely competitive surface – and he was never dour as some have been in the long history of Yorkshire cricket.
Bresnan once called himself “a doer more than a thinker”, adding to the aura of no-nonsense Yorkshireman.
He is perhaps sharper than he cares to let on and although it would be stretching it to paint him as some sort of cricketing Lieutenant Colombo, there is certainly a streetwiseness about Bresnan that would make him a useful ally if it all kicked off down the local pub, not to mention a cricketing intelligence that might serve him well as a bowling coach should he ever choose to go down that path.
Just one more thing...
It is a shame that Bresnan’s Yorkshire career did not end in a blaze of glory, with a magnificent send-off after capturing the winning wicket to beat Lancashire, perhaps, to claim yet another Championship trophy.
But the no-frills exit feels somehow appropriate.
As Steve Oldham, the former Yorkshire bowling coach said in that same 2012 Wisden, “It sounds boring, but he’s a no-frills bloke from a super family from Castleford, where the people tend to be down to earth.
“And, as God is my witness, he’s never been one ounce of trouble.”
Fare well, “Brezzy lad”.