Dernbach

My old Mum used to tell me ‘if you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all’.  Unfortunately, if we adhered to this particular sentiment today, the following article wouldn’t be very long. That’s why we’ve given our new guest writer, Edward Higgs, free rein to tell us how he really feels about the only man in cricket with worse tattoos than Mitchell Johnson. Over to you Ed …

Years from now, Jade Dernbach will settle down in front of the fire, pick up his pen, and start to write his memoirs, beginning, presumably, with a chapter entitled ‘The England Selectors, and their Dark, Dark, Secret’…

He will, won’t he? The fact that Dernbach is blackmailing the selectors into his continued selection has become something of a running joke on social media, and if you’re not adding fuel to social media fires these days, then you’ve got no chance of making it as a Twitter cricket guru.

Picking on Dernbach is in vogue at the moment, but let’s be honest, it’s not without good reason, is it? Certainly, I’m struggling to think of too many legitimate reasons for his selection, beyond giving whoever sits next to his tattooed arms on the team bus something to read.

The guy has forever been sold to us as the type to bowl ‘allsorts’, but frankly, any attack with Dernbach at the forefront just signals all sorts of trouble.

Forgive my cynicism, but I’m starting to wonder if even he’s thinking about what’s going to come out of his hand from one ball to the next. Judging by some of his ill-timed sledges, I’m starting to wonder if he’s even thinking at all…

When selectors and pundits talk in favour of Dernbach, and admittedly, those singing his praises are becoming rarer and rarer by the day, they speak in hushed tones about his slower ball like he invented the bloody thing. It’s as if nobody else in the England camp could ever even dream of such wizardry, let alone execute it. To give him his due, it is well-disguised. But a shoplifter could be a master of disguise, and nobody would give him much credit if he tripped up on his way out of the shop.

Wednesday’s warm-up match was Dernbach all over. His first over was superb, conceding five runs. We sat with bated breath, daring to dream. His second over brought the wicket of Rohit Sharma, a well-aimed bouncer. Ye Gads! Could this be the performance we were all waiting for, one to give us some, nay, any hope?

Sorry to build your hopes up, but no, it wasn’t. Two wides immediately followed, as did a classic ‘death bowler’ performance, and once more Dernbach’s economy rate went through the roof. This performance was so generically Dernbach that it was like listening to the world’s worst Greatest Hits CD.

In fairness, there aren’t many options within the World T20 squad itself. Tim Bresnan’s form seems to have fallen off a cliff and pace bowlers in general look primed for a right hammering out in Bangladesh. You have to wonder to what extent opening the bowling with spin is a tactical move, as opposed to just a lack of faith in the seamers.

Dernbach is only 27 years old, yet he already feels like a relic of a past era for England, perhaps a paradox for someone regarded as such a ‘modern bowler’, with his variations of slower balls, bouncers, and rubbish.

If England are serious about a brave new era, this tournament may well be Dernbach’s last chance to impress, before the English summer brings various shouts for new, in vogue talent such as the Overton twins.

The fate of Jade Dernbach seems destined to take one of two paths. Either he’ll prove to be a master of his craft on the low, slow pitches in this tournament, and begin to justify the 55 ODI and T20 international caps that sit on a mantelpiece somewhere (I know, I couldn’t believe the numbers either); or he’ll take a tonking from the likes of Chris Gayle and MS Dhoni – which on the one hand will be simultaneously intriguing and horrifying, but on the other hand will surely, once and for all, render Dernbach’s X-Factor as an ex-factor.

Edward Higgs