Royal London Cup final, Lord's June 30, 2017

'I'm just desperately passionate to do well' - Dernbach

His star may have waned with England but Jade Dernbach is still a major part of the constellation at Surrey

Jade Dernbach celebrates a wicket en route to another Lord's final © Getty Images

Jade Winston Dernbach: not a name that's easy to forget, much like its tattooed, coiffed owner. But that seems to be what England - and, we need to admit this, most of the rest of us - have done.

Exempted from that, of course, are Surrey and the club's supporters, who know just how important Dernbach is to their white-ball success. Dernbach will lead the line with the ball for the fourth time in a Lord's final when Surrey take on Nottinghamshire to decide this year's Royal London Cup on Saturday - a contest he describes as a "mouth-watering proposition" - hoping to provide another reminder of the sui generis skill-set that first brought him to international recognition.

It is three years since Dernbach was last seen in an England shirt, a solar-red smear across the Chittagong night sky after he ran into AB de Villiers on a mission at the 2014 World T20. His involvement with the one-day side was curtailed even before then, after an exhilarating but ultimately unfulfilled fling with his arsenal of sharp outswing and back-of-the-hand slower balls (plus the odd full toss).

Now 31, and having suffered a couple of seasons disrupted by injury, Dernbach seems to have passed out of England's orbit, a comet that flared brightly but briefly. But he has not given up hope of further involvement with a young, dynamic England one-day side, full of confidence in their own abilities, yet still in search of a key component or two after their Champions Trophy disappointment.

The showpiece one-day final, now scheduled so that it will actually be played in the summer, offers a chance for Dernbach to make his case once again. Surrey have missed out on the Royal London Cup two years in succession - in 2015, Dernbach became only the third man to take a hat-trick in a Lord's final, yet his 6 for 35 came in defeat - and now find themselves up against a Nottinghamshire batting line-up packed with current and former internationals.

"The current England regime is great for all players in terms of the confidence the management are giving them"

Surrey have a few big names themselves, including Kumar Sangakkara in regal form, and will hope that an attack led by Dernbach, Ravi Rampaul and the Curran brothers - with 56 wickets among them in the competition this season - can help make it third time lucky at Lord's.

"If you just were to see their team on paper it would suggest they are going to be a stern test, the amount of international players they have got at their disposal," Dernbach says. "But from an individual point of view, I certainly look forward to that sort of challenge. You want to test yourself against the best and, if you want to call yourself the champions, you have to beat the best.

"I have been lucky enough to play international cricket in the past and these are the sorts of contests which you come up against week in week out. For someone like myself, who's trying to get back into the international set-up, it's great to come up against international-class bats and prove how good we really are."

Dernbach's numbers on paper need little fluffing. In four seasons since the one-day cup reverted to 50 overs - the better to reflect international cricket - Dernbach has taken 49 wickets from 23 matches; only Jeetan Patel (61 from 35) and Matt Coles (57 from 31) have exceeded him. Over the last ten years, in domestic List A competition, nobody can match Dernbach's tally of 158 at 22.69.

Body art, Jade Dernbach style © Getty Images

Interestingly, among active players, only Samit Patel, an opponent on Saturday and another England discard with points to prove, comes close.

"I certainly hope to play for England again," Dernbach says. "I will play cricket as long as I think I can achieve that goal, that's really big for me. I think the current regime is great for all players, in terms of the confidence the management are giving them, the amount of time they're allowing them to do the roles asked of them, and it is great there's an emphasis now on white-ball cricket.

"I would love the opportunity to come back. I think my stats are certainly up there and have been for a while now. I want to continue to do that and winning a trophy on Saturday won't do me any harm."

The numbers, it has to be said, also have Dernbach down as one of the most expensive bowlers to play both one-day and T20 international cricket. But, having come in during a period of upheaval in ODI regulations that amplified already rising scoring rates, Dernbach believes the way people assess his role - chiefly, bowling early on and at the death - has evolved.

He also feels there has been a "change of mindset" surrounding England's limited-overs cricket under Trevor Bayliss and Eoin Morgan. Perhaps the revived international careers of Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett - wayward talents now older and wiser - offers further hope for the Redemption of Jade?

"I think there's been a shift in the way in which we think about one-day cricket now, which certainly benefits someone like me," he says. "I think people now understand bowling is a very difficult task and sometimes it's not necessarily the runs you go for, it's how have you affected a fixture in order to win the game. So I think all that fits in nicely with the way I bowl, it's a case now of trying to force my way into what is currently a very successful group for England. But you can never say never, can you? So I just keep putting in the performances and hope that phone call comes.

"People see the celebrations or how much it means to me when I'm playing but they don't understand that's still a fragile balance"

"I see myself as someone who can run in and swing the new ball, as well as being a kind of banker come the end of the innings. There is certainly a place for that in any one-day side. My thought process was, if I can stack up season upon season of putting it together, getting through to finals, hopefully winning trophies, then that would say it enough. But I guess that hasn't been the case to date, so I have to keep bashing down the door."

There is more than a hint of Dernbach's skill, chutzpah and showmanship (as well as a South African birthplace) in his Surrey team-mate Tom Curran, who made an impressive start to his England career on T20 debut last week. As his appearance on the Freelance CC podcast last year revealed, Dernbach is a far more mature and thoughtful personality than is immediately apparent and he takes great pride in the mentor role he plays at Surrey to Tom and his younger brother Sam.

If Dernbach's England time has passed, and the Currans are the future, then he will surely have valuable lessons to bestow - not least to believe in yourself, regardless of criticism. Whatever his imperfections as a bowler, there is no doubt Dernbach wears his heart on his tattooed sleeve.

"Initially, when I first got dropped by England, it took me a long time to get back on track, because it was such a knock to the confidence and because I'm such a confidence bowler. People see the celebrations or how much it means to me when I'm playing but they don't understand that's still a fragile balance, everybody has their own limits and people need to be in certain zones to perform well and for me, the jobs I was doing, I had to be confident doing those jobs to be good.

"I couldn't do it any other way, I love playing cricket, I love taking wickets. When I celebrate, some people can take it as 'Oh, it's just this arrogant bloke running around with tattoos', but that's not the case, it's someone who's just desperately passionate to do well all the time for my team. People portray that in different ways and people misunderstand me, so be it - everybody is entitled to their opinions. For me, it's a case of being enthusiastic and passionate for my team to do well."

Right now, that means trying to emulate Surrey's CB40 success in 2011, when Dernbach claimed 4 for 30 in the final. That was also the summer he broke through with England - in case you'd forgotten.

Alan Gardner is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • frank on July 4, 2017, 7:20 GMT

    An international recall? I see he still has a sense of humour at least.Dernbach's international record is poor,and why would the selectors recall someone who played in a largely losing side to play in one that now wins the bulk of its games? Absurd.

  • Garry on July 3, 2017, 0:48 GMT

    He can't bat so no chance of a recall.

  • Daniel on July 2, 2017, 13:50 GMT

    Good piece. I feel understand Dernbach a little better now. Good luck to him.

  • Rajith on July 2, 2017, 8:31 GMT

    always have an angry attitude....just a mediocre bowler, nothing more thn tht

  • garry on July 2, 2017, 6:46 GMT

    Please, no. Why talk anout him for England when he was so bad for them?

  • Jahan on July 2, 2017, 6:09 GMT

    I am surprised to see so much about someone who's almost unknown to the cricket fans and has almost no achievements.

  • Siddharth on July 1, 2017, 21:59 GMT

    @YAALIMADAD I'm pretty sure Kohli will win more than Jade by the time their careers will finish

  • Fi on June 30, 2017, 20:16 GMT

    Kohli should cover himself like Jade - he might win a bit more.

  • ian on June 30, 2017, 18:42 GMT

    Jade is not everyone's cup of tea - and he was mercilessly mocked when he last played for England. Limited overs cricket tends to bring out a more forthright (even if less sympathetic or understanding) type of supporter. It think it would be true to say that he has matured and is a better cricketer and a more rounded person, as befits a man over thirty compared to one in his early twenties. He doesn't attempt to show off by bowling six different balls an over. His varieties are used more sparingly - and to greater effect. That he's devoted to his art (besides his body art) is unquestioned - and a more committed player it is difficult to imagine. At times, especially in the past, it may be that he tried too hard. These days he is a far more disciplined performer. He'll turn out and turn up for Surrey tomorrow. He has bowled brilliantly in the last two Lord's finals in this comp. If Surrey come first, then he will have his just reward for the valiant failures of 2015 and 2016. Go, Jade!

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