(Photo: Getty Images)
By Richard Edwards
The image of Chris Tremlett being mobbed by team-mates after taking the final wicket of the 2010/11 Ashes series remains one of the most iconic of English cricket’s modern era.
Given that he had missed the first two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide and hadn’t played a match for his country in over three years, it also represented something of a sporting fairytale.
In that series, Tremlett demonstrated the priceless ability of the Ashes to anoint unlikely heroes – and now the former Hampshire and Surrey bowler believes a vacancy has opened up for a new one as the Brisbane Test draws near.
The absence of Ben Stokes has certainly thrown up potential opportunities for players who would otherwise have assumed bit-part roles in this winter’s series. It has also provided the likes of Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow and Craig Overton the chance to step into his shoes and etch their name into Ashes folklore.
“I only played 12 Test matches, I would have loved to have played more but my body stopped me, really,” says Tremlett. “But that period was probably the best I had ever bowled and that series is something that I’ll always remember.
“I had been to Australia a lot since a young age so I knew Australian conditions very well and went into that series full of confidence.
“It wasn’t just a personal thing, we just formed a really strong bowling unit. Graeme Swann bowled short spells and just allowed us to come in and bowl with fire and accuracy, which is exactly what we did. Every time we needed someone to stand-up they did and there’s another chance for someone to do that in this series.
“People will always remember what you do in an Ashes series and the guys in Australia at the moment will know that.”
Tremlett’s 17 wickets in that series went a long way to securing the series for Andrew Strauss’s side. Tim Bresnan also played a full role, taking 11 wickets in the last two Tests as England sealed their first overseas Ashes triumph in a generation.
Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Steven Finn also played in that series and all three could have a crucial role to play if that famous win is to be repeated in the coming months.
It’s a measure of the ruthlessness that England demonstrated six winters ago that Finn was dropped from the side following the Perth Test, despite taking 14 wickets in the series to that point.
The likes of Tremlett, Anderson, Bresnan and, particularly, Swann proved adept at stopping the flow of runs from Aussie bats back in 2010/11. This, in turn, led to Australia’s batsmen panicking and taking the kind of risks that continually presented wicket-taking opportunities.
Tremlett argues that finding a balance between aggression and stifling the Aussie run rate – sky high in the last series Down Under – remains the key to England’s success this winter.
“We kept their run-rate to something like two and a half throughout that series and that played a massive role in 2010/11,” he says.
“We bowled to a plan in that series and we bowled as a team. The Aussies will always come at you and try and score at four or five an over and that always give you a chance.”