Tim Bresnan always loved cricket and still absolutely does - but he admits that his move to Warwickshire this year has "reignited the fire."
Bresnan treasures the long and successful career he enjoyed at his native Yorkshire. It included plenty of glory for the White Rose, including back-to-back championship titles. It also provided the seam-bowling all-rounder with a platform for an international career during which he helped England become T20 World Champions and number one in the Test rankings. All good. Very good.
But this year, at 35 and with plenty of fuel still in the tank, Bresnan reached a bit of a crossroads. He chose the road to Edgbaston and is very glad he did.
“I was so lucky to have the career I had with Yorkshire and loved it,” he said. “But I felt I was going through the motions a little bit. I was a little bit stale and felt I needed a new challenge – something to reignite the fire. I still absolutely love playing cricket so just thought a move to a totally different club with a different atmosphere would give me that impetus – a bit of a rocket. And the move to Warwickshire has done exactly that. I’m so pleased with it.
“Right from the start I was made to feel really welcome. Paul Farbrace, Rhodesy, Jim Troughton and all the lads just took the pressure off me. They said, ‘you know what you’re doing, you’ve been doing it for years – just manage the game for us.’
“Walking into that first game I was thinking, ‘this is a new challenge, a new lease of life…just enjoy it.’ I knew that, if I enjoyed it, I’d play some good cricket.”Tim Bresnan
And that’s what happened. Bresnan started spectacularly with a debut century and match figures of 38-15-59-4 against Northamptonshire in the Bob Willis Trophy at Edgbaston and went on to be one of the standout players in the Bears’ truncated season.
“To get a hundred in that first game was really satisfying,” he said. “You want to do well and you know you are there on merit, but still to get a hundred was great. Straight away you have contributed and earned the respect of the dressing room.
“That was the perfect start and then it was a case of going out there and passing on little nuggets here and there to the younger lads. I have really enjoyed the way they have responded and am so excited to be able to try to help them along their way.”
Bresnan very much intends to add success with the Bears to a career which has already known much glory. It is a career which has delivered more than 1,000 wickets, including 205 for England, in professional cricket…after starting with a mode of dismissal which was to seldom figure in that 1,000-plus.
“I grew up around cricket at Townville CC, who played in the Bradford League, and then at Castleford in the Yorkshire League,” he recalls. “My dad and uncles played and my mum, grandma and auntie did the teas. I made my first team debut for Castleford aged 12 and managed to get a wicket…my first ever wicket in adult cricket was a leg-side stumping!
“Then one day I played for Castleford against the Yorkshire Academy and Yorkshire’s bowling coach Steve Oldham came to me and said, ‘right, enough messing about – you come and play for me on a Saturday now'”.
Bresnan was on his way. He played for Yorkshire’s 2nd XI the following year and, in 2001, made his first team debut at 16, in a Norwich Union League game against Kent at Headingley. He scored five not out and bowled 4-0-15-0…a creditable effort for a lad who could hardly believe was what happening.
“It was nuts, walking into a changing room full of my heroes,” he said. “I changed between Craig White and Richard Blakey. A year or two earlier I’d been to a one-day game and got most of their autographs. Now there I was sitting amongst them, waiting to walk out on the field. It was ridiculous!
“It all happened so fast. Yorkshire were well on the way to winning the championship and I think they were resting a few of the big lads – Chris Silverwood, Steve Kirby, Darren Gough, Ryan Sidebottom. I just tried to enjoy it.
“I did okay and managed to get a couple of wickets in the next game. That was at Trent Bridge, a day/nighter on TV and we were chasing a lot and needed about ten off two overs and I was next in. The camera panned to me and ‘Bumble’ said ‘it’s approaching 11.30 here at Trent Bridge and there’s the 16-year-old…at least his mum and dad know where he is!’
“It was absolutely fantastic. Before you know it, you’re on county treadmill and playing six days a week. It just sort swallows you up but it is such good fun. There can’t be many better careers, as a young kid travelling the country and the world, playing the game you love.”
Next came the step up into international cricket and Bresnan took it rather well. England won the first 13 Tests in which he played.
“They weren’t 13 in a row,” he said. “I’d play a Test, then miss a Test, then come back in to give someone a rest. I was called England’s lucky charm but I was just very, very lucky to come in to such a good side. I also spent a lot of time 12th manning and that gave me a lot of time to work on my game. It massively improved my game, just being in that environment, touring with the boys and having the time and effort and work to put in on my batting and fielding as well as my bowling.
“It made me such a better player, having the coaches available. When there were no 12th man duties, it was ‘right, let’s go for a net, or let’s get’s go work on this or that’. You don’t really get the chance to do that during a county season. You’re playing all the time and haven’t got the time to devote that much time to practice.
“But being with England gives you that time. They do it so well. When they get a big squad of players together, you might not be picked in the team, but you are not just sat around doing nothing. If you have the right work ethic and commitment to make yourself better, you can’t not improve in that environment.”Tim Bresnan
Bresnan blossomed in that environment and became part of some very special days with England. Perhaps most of all, Boxing Day, 2010. The first day of the Melbourne Test. 96,000 people present. Australia 98 all out, England 157 without loss.
“I’ll never forget that day,” he said. “It was my Ashes debut, a Boxing Day Test at Melbourne, and it was phenomenal. Walking out and singing the anthems with 96,000 people in the ground was pretty intimidating. It is like the Colosseum. Then we bowled them out for 98 and by teatime the ground was half empty. It went from being jam-packed full to 40 or 50,000. It was a brilliant day and one I’ll never forget…I’ve been so lucky to be part of days like that.”
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