Cricket World Cup 2011

England unveil SA-born recruit

2011-03-22 14:47
Jade Dernbach (File)

Colombo - England have unveiled their latest South African-born recruit, seam bowler Jade Dernbach, to boost their chances of beating Sri Lanka in their Cricket World Cup quarter-final on Saturday.

Dernbach, born and raised in South Africa until he was 14, has been called up to replace bowler Ajmal Shahzad, who pulled a hamstring and has returned home. Dernbach was playing for England's second-string squad in the Caribbean when he was called up late last week and told to fly straight to Sri Lanka.

"He is a talented athlete and has performed very well with the Lions on the current tour of the West Indies and we feel his variations will be extremely useful on the surfaces we will be playing on should we progress to the knockout stages of the World Cup," selector Geoff Miller said in a statement.

The six-foot-two Surrey bowler, who turns 25 next month, follows Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Craig Kieswetter as South Africans who have adopted England.

But Dernbach says, "I owe nothing to South Africa. I learned my cricket in England."

It is not known if Dernbach will make his full England debut in Saturday's quarter-final at the Premadasa stadium, a wicket that is notorious for taking spin but not offering very much to seamers. 

Dernbach was probably favoured over Chris Woakes because he has a range of slower deliveries at his disposal that helped him become the leading wicket-taker during the second-string team's tour of the Caribbean. 

Pace bowler James Anderson has been out of form and sat out England's last match, a victory over the West Indies. Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett are the only fit and functioning seamers from the original squad.

After spearheading the win over the West Indies which kept England's World Cup campaign alive, spinners Graeme Swann and James Tredwell are both widely expected to play in Colombo on a wicket where Muttiah Muralitharan has tormented opposing batsmen for years.

Dernbach was born in Johannesburg and raised in Durban, moving to England when his family decided to emigrate. He also carried an Italian passport at an early stage of his life because of his Italian-born mother.

The seamer said he had little interest in cricket when he lived in South Africa, preferring rugby as a flyhalf. He didn't took up cricket seriously at high school in England, eventually being selected for Surrey Under-17s.

He has been part of the England & Wales Cricket Board's academy for the past three years and has also had to learn quickly on Surrey's fast, batsman-friendly wickets.

"At The Oval, you have to learn quickly," he told reporters.

England's team has numerous "foreign" players, including Pietersen, Trott and Kieswetter, who were all raised in South Africa. Captain Andrew Strauss and wicketkeeper Matt Prior were also born in South Africa, while batsman Eoin Morgan was born in Ireland.

Dernbach said he had not had time to celebrate his call up, and only realised the extent of his achievement when his mother started screaming with delight when he called from the Caribbean with the selection news.

The heavily-tattoed bowler said the slower delivery was now an essential part of the armory of every seamer playing top level, limited-overs cricket.

"The slower ball is one of my biggest weapons," he said, adding he could deploy a variety of slow balls that should be effective on Colombo's slow track.

"You can't be a one-trick pony any more," he said.


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