In my post-Christmas lunch haze I settled in to watch the start of Ashes Test number four last night, the Boxing Day Test at the enormous Melbourne Cricket Ground, and what a treat I was in store for.
Australia blasted out for 98, their lowest total at The G in Ashes history, a sub-100 innings total is a rare thing indeed in the annals of England in Australia history. England's seamers put on a real show for their supporters, those at the ground and those recovering at home . Anderson returned figures of 4-44, Bresnan 2-25 and the pick of the attack - statistically at least, Chris Tremlett with 4-26 taking him to 12 wickets in just two Ashes tests at an average of under 15. The reality struck then and there, Perth was no fluke, Tremlett is there for keeps.
Steven Finn can count himself unlucky to have been dropped, or 'rested' for this game, but his time will come, it is clear to all who have seen him that he'll go on to take hundreds of wickets for England. Finn is still raw though, he has areas to improve on, Tremlett is the finished article now.
Chris Tremlett is what a good friend of mine likes to call a "sh*t you up" bowler, like Harmison was in his pomp, he worries batsmen because of his sheer size and presence. It was a joy to watch him bowl at the Oval in 2010, which brings me to my main point - in 2011 Tremlett at the Oval, and in fact in a Surrey shirt anywhere, might not happen very much.
England know now that in Tremlett, if he stays fit, they have a world class bowler who is at the peak of his physical prowess, and they should take advantage of that. I think Steve Finn will have a hell of a fight on his hands to get into this side once Broad returns, what a delicious prospect for England, and there's Onions to come back too!
So Surrey will likely be a seamer for large chunks of the 2011 county season, the fitness of Jade Dernbach, Stuart Meaker, Tim Linley and the fragile Chris Jordan is all the more important suddenly. Dernbach, Meaker and Linley took 88 wickets between them in the Championship last season, averaging 30 collectively, striking on average once every 54 balls and going at 3.3 runs an over. Respectable figures no doubt - but Tremlett was a cut above, averaging 20, strike rate of 45 and going at just 2.6 an over. He leaves a gaping chasm in our bowling attack, make no mistake.
Matthew Dunn might find himself called upon more regularly than he might've thought a few weeks ago but it'd be unfair to expect too much of such a young (though undoubtedly talented) player.
I am delighted for Tremlett, and England (country before county after all!), but he added a real cutting edge to our attack that will be sorely missed. Dernbach and Meaker need to make a step up, which I think they are both certainly capable of, maybe the extra responsibility will be the making of them?