Tim Bresnan's subtlety has taken England to the brink of retaining the Ashes urn, says Bob Willis.
Last Updated: 28/12/10 8:37am
Through clenched teeth Shane Watson had little option but to praise England's bowlers after Australia all but surrendered the Ashes in Melbourne.
The opener admitted at stumps that facing Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan has been a real challenge in this fourth Test; high praise indeed.
With Australia 246 runs in arrears and only four wickets in the bank he could barely say otherwise and it must have been sickening for him to go out and do that interview.
With two days still remaining I can only echo his thoughts on England's attack.
When one bowler has not quite been at his peak others have stepped up to ensure the Aussie batsmen haven't enjoyed a break.
They've been under constant pressure at the crease and while England would have preferred to wrap up this Test, and thereby retain the Ashes, inside three days they surely now won't have to wait much longer to achieve that aim.
England have dominated this Test even though they probably should have scored more than 513 in their first innings and even though things didn't pan out for them with the new ball second time around.
But crucially they found some reverse swing and the inclusion of Yorkshire's Bresnan at Steve Finn's expense could barely have worked out better for the selectors.
We saw how fine a competitor Bresnan is in Bangladesh earlier this year when he out-bowled everybody on the world's flattest pitches and once again he didn't let anybody down, his spell of three wickets for two runs in 18 balls after tea being the highlight of the day.
The term 'horses for courses' was used when Bresnan was selected and the pitch could have been a replica of Headingley on the first day as there was live, green grass on the surface and we had overcast skies above to boot.
If anyone knows how to bowl in those particular conditions, it is Bresnan and he is not the sort of bowler who sprays it around.
His ability to swing the ball conventionally as well as reverse swing it means that his accuracy is allied to tremendous subtlety - batsmen can never be quite certain how much the ball is going to do when he has it in his hand, which makes him a very valuable member of this squad.
He, just like Tremlett, has grabbed his opportunity when it has come and that is the hallmark of any successful side - including the England side that last retained the Ashes in Australia, in 1986/87, when Gladstone Small performed so well as a replacement for the injured Graham Dilley.
One can only spare a thought for Eoin Morgan and Steve Davies, who must be desperate to get out there and play a part in this tremendous series.
For people of the calibre of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke to have failed consistently in this series doesn't necessarily point to a lack of form; it means the opposition bowlers are at the peak of their powers and haven't allowed them to play well.
Watson tried to look at Australia's plight positively, saying that even if they do lose the Ashes tomorrow they still have pride to play for in the remainder of the series - something of an English stock phrase over the years.
He comes over as a very genuine guy and I admire his spirit. But this isn't an England side that will settle for a 2-2 draw. Australia have been outplayed here and they'll have their work cut out again in Sydney.