Cricket World Cup: Dernbach set to make grade for England
Jade Dernbach is 24, was born in South Africa, bowls fast with reverse swing and a devilish slower ball, sports earrings in both ears and has a right arm emblazoned in tattoos. On Saturday he may make his debut for England in the World Cup quarter-finals.
He arrived to join the squad yesterday and immediately conveyed the impression that he is not along for the ride. Dernbach has leap-frogged a few other fast bowlers, who might have been higher in the pecking order, after a series of substantial performances on the England Lions tour of the West Indies.
It would be a gamble to play him against Sri Lanka at the Premadasa Stadium on Saturday but England may consider that the element of the unknown he offers would work in their favour. Opponents may never have heard of the fast bowler and will be surprised at his inclusion. England are probably surprised.
Dernbach did not appear at all perplexed. He received the call in the Caribbean last Friday, flew to London the following day and then caught a flight to Colombo on Monday. He sounded as if he had been around for a decade.
“It's a big game and you can't just point to one area,” he said. “Sri Lanka are tough opponents but as long as we do what we have to do we have enough quality in our side to win against anyone.
“It is a World Cup quarter-final but I assume we'll just be preparing for another game of cricket. The mood in the camp is great. I only arrived last night but everyone has been really welcoming and it's been a great environment to come into. Hopefully I can add to that with my energy.”
The first thing that is noticed about Dernbach, and what will get him talked about immediately, is the body art. His right arm is a sea of blue ink, his left arm has the beginnings and he was proud to inform his audience that there were a couple of engravings under his shirt. Plenty more could be on the way.
“It's something I'm really interested in,” he said. “I'm quite an expressive sort of character and it's just an extension of my personality I like to think.”
Of his right arm he said: “I've got some Chinese writing which is my name and strength and power. I've got carpe diem, seize the day. I've got my birth fish and some good luck symbols.”
Dernbach came to England with his South African family from Durban when he was 14.
He is a product of the English system, not the South African, considers himself English and there are many more traces of London then Durban in his accent.
Dernbach had a hesitant start to his career but took 46 wickets for Surrey last year at 28.
England have preferred him to Chris Woakes and Steve Finn for the sport vacated by the injured Ajmal Shahzad.
They might now prefer him to Jimmy Anderson or Chris Tremlett, Ashes heroes both, to try to progress in the World Cup.
It would be a huge call but one they appear prepared to make and that Dernbach seems ready to embrace.