Monday, 7 February 2011

Jade Dernbach: Breakthrough year?

Around June time last year Jade Dernbach was bowling beautifully in pretty much all forms of the game, that is until he pulled up lame at Lords in the Twenty20 match with Middlesex. It turns out that before that game he had been informed of his call up to an England Lions squad for the first time, so to say it was a poorly timed injury is putting it mildly.

It was a good few weeks before he was back in the side, he missed the remainder of the T20 campaign and a chunk of the back end of our season . However he was still our leading wicket taker and as reward he bagged himself a spot on the Performance Programme for the winter tour to Australia, continuing as it is now in to the West Indies.

Regular readers of the blog know that I'm a big fan of Jade's. Some people might be put off by his South African roots, his slightly brash exterior or even his many tattoos, but I'm not. Regular readers might also have mistaken my eulogising that he always gives his absolute all as shorthand for saying 'tries hard but is a bit crap', but that could not be further from the truth.

Dernbach has been at times a very frustrating bowler, a few too many loose balls that have seemed to have shifted momentum in games. That's not unfair, over the years he has had bowled erratically here and there, but there's no doubt that he's been on an upward trajectory, especially in the last 18 months. He's a relatively late blossomer (despite winning the NBC Denis Compton Award in 2004 and 2009), he turns 25 the week before the season kicks off, but maybe that just means he's got all the more experience to draw on. He's quick enough (high 80s and even the odd 90mph delivery if the Sky speedguns are to be believed) and I hate to belabour the point, but his slower ball really is one of the best around.

It was Dernbach's 5-16 yesterday which sealed a three day innings win for the England Lions against the Leeward Islands (backed up very ably by Buck, Briggs, Hildreth and Co.) and you sense he might be around the junior squad a bit more this year - someone in the Performance Programme obviously sees something special. 2011 could be a really big year for Dernbach, if he can stay fit and keep firing he should be looking at 60-70 wickets, and who knows where from there.

What excites me is that in Dernbach and Meaker we have two bowlers who have a tendency to bowl if not quite 'unplayable' then whatever is next down from unplayable, justaboutplayable (and fast) seam bowling spells. Yes there will be the odd four ball, but you'll also get wickets into the bargain.

With Tremlett likely to be absent on England duty for long periods you'd think we might be scraping the barrel, but we aren't. In Arafat, Meaker and Dernbach, plus Linley and Jordan for good measure, we actually have pretty healthy looking fast bowling stocks.


Anonymous said...

Just found this by accident, but couldn't agree more. It is not often I read anyone's thoughts on cricket or a particular player and agree 100%, but this time I do. I think Jade is a very exciting player and is massively improving. If he stays injury free 2011 could be his year.

GreenJJ said...

Hello there
Glad you agree! He is exciting, there's always something happening when Jade's bowling. Really hope he can avoid the injuries this year.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. There seems to be a bit of magic about his bowling at the moment. He was getting better anyway, but I think 'new Surrey' as I like to call them and playing in a young team has really helped him grow. He seems to be Rory's go-to man when he needs a wicket and I think that responsibility suits Jade and seems to get the best out of him.

I think any fan of any county would acknowledge how good his slower ball is, I bumped into Michael Holding at a match and asked him just how good he thought it was, and he said very, very, good. He also said Jade must have a 'very flexible elbow' to be able to bowl it, and if it impresses Mikey Holding....

I even agree with what you say about his brash exterior, to be honest I used to find him irritating, I thought he was a bit hit and miss as a bowler and really cocky, with lots of South African arrogance. I don't know whether he's grown up or it was all just a front, but I had a chat with Jade before the start of last season and you couldn't find a nicer, more humble, polite bloke. With two five wicket hauls in two matches for the Lions and all those injuries in the England squad I wouldn't be surprised if he was promoted to England duty fairly swiftly now, at least in the ODI squad. He's definitely knocking on the door with recent performances. And being a bit older, he looks like he is fit and strong and ready for it, unlike the occasional Lions player they move up too quickly. I would be delighted for him if it happened, he was in the original 30 man World Cup squad after all, but selfishly, I hope it doesn't happen too soon, as I want to see him in a Surrey shirt at the Oval in 2011!


GreenJJ said...

Cheers Gemma.

Well he'll definitely have moved up the backup bowling ranks, comprehensively outbowled Plunkett, Harris and Chambers, all of whom I would've put ahead of him in the pecking order before this Lions series. I do think England's main seamers in ODI cricket have suffered from a lack of variation, apart from Broad, Anderson's slower ball isn't great and none has a 'back of the hand' slower ball which is so much harder to pick.

The last thing we need though is another player heading off on England duty!

JHobbs said...

Spot on about 'dirtbag'. In the hype about Tremlett last season, Dernbach's performances were not as noticed as they might have been. He also has the knack of taking wickets in batches, which can turn a game.

If Dernbach performs this season Surrey will have a very good year.

GreenJJ said...

Agree JHobbs, he and Meaker both tend to take wickets in bunches - hopefully we can get them both firing!