x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Tim Bresnan's absence gives England a headache

The loss of the pace bowler to injury leaves England with questions over their bowling attack and their batting order.

Tim Bresnan has returned to England as a result of his elbow injury.
Tim Bresnan has returned to England as a result of his elbow injury.

Kevin Pietersen described himself as a "sour man" on Monday night after picking up the sizeable bill for himself and 12 of his England teammates at The Ivy, Dubai, after losing the team's popular game of credit card roulette.

If there was one player entitled to be more bitter than Pietersen at the table it was Tim Bresnan who would have been forgiven for eating his food rather unenthusiastically on his last night in the UAE after being told he will be flying home just over a week into the tour because of an elbow injury.

Bresnan clearly underestimated the problem as he was shopping for shorts in Dubai on Saturday. He will not need those in Yorkshire at this time of year. There was huge irony in the fact he trudged through Departures at Dubai International Airport yesterday as Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, swaggered through Arrivals.

Ever the diplomatic, Misbah is unlikely to acknowledge it but he would have been glad to see the back of Bresnan, and not just because he knows his team have a weakness against bowlers who extract steepling bounce.

The absence of Bresnan creates a selection quandary for England. Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss have stuck rigidly to highly-successful formula of six batsmen and four bowlers but there is a feeling England may need to play five bowlers to take 20 wickets on the flat pitches in the UAE.

The availability of Bresnan, the strapping all-rounder, would have smoothed the promotion of wicketkeeper Matt Prior to No 6 in the batting order at the expense of Eoin Morgan, enabling England to field a second spinner or another seamer.

A lower order of Bresnan, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, at seven, eight and nine respectively, would still provide England with sufficient batting depth.

However, the absence of Bresnan, would leave Broad batting one spot too high at seven and a tail of Swann, Jimmy Anderson, Monty Panesar, Steven Finn or Chris Tremlett having a long look to it.

Flower and Strauss have not masterminded England's rise to No 1 in the world by taking too many risks so expect England to shelve any ideas of tinkering and stick with the tried and tested make-up for the opening Test in Dubai on Tuesday.