Broad shows class once again but Eng­land need new blood Down Un­der

Se­lec­tors must plan for trip to Aus­tralia next win­ter with an eye on tak­ing an at­tack that is ca­pa­ble of bring­ing back urn

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Second Test - By Scyld Berry CHIEF CRICKET WRITER

Anew tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tor will be man­ning the mi­cro­phones soon. Very tall, and very ar­tic­u­late, Stu­art Broad will raise the stan­dard im­me­di­ately. Too many at present seem un­able to name a fielder who stops or drops the ball.

Since Graeme Swann re­tired, Broad has been the most quotable of Eng­land crick­eters, the one with most to say, either about him­self or the game.

And it is this flu­ency of speech – long ago Broad lost it with the bat, af­ter a hor­ri­ble fa­cial in­jury – of which Eng­land’s se­lec­tors should be wary, or more so than they ap­par­ently are.

Broad, on his re­call for the sec­ond Test, showed again what a mas­ter he is with a new Dukes ball in Eng­land, where he has now taken 311 Test wick­ets at only 26 runs each. A three-wicket burst with the sec­ond new ball prised open West Indies’ first in­nings; an­other three­wicket burst with the first new ball prised open West Indies’ sec­ond in­nings, a valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to Eng­land’s thor­oughly pro­fes­sional vic­tory in only four days of play.

It was good to see Broad’s com­pet­i­tive juices flow­ing again. How typ­i­cal of him that he should call for a re­view in his first over when not even his wick­et­keeper heard a nick; and how typ­i­cal of Chris Woakes that he should not want to risk wast­ing a re­view when he would oth­er­wise have had his 100th Test wicket.

Over the years, Broad has learnt how to pitch the ball fuller, so that he now traps a higher pro­por­tion of his vic­tims bowled or lbw; and to bowl with amaz­ing pre­ci­sion at left­handers from round the wicket, as in the last Ashes in Eng­land when he dis­missed David Warner seven times for a score be­low 14. Broad has added cut­ters in prov­ing that age­ing pace bowlers can learn new tricks; and he has also per­fected the gift of the gab.

At Southamp­ton, when he was omit­ted from the XI for the open­ing Test, Broad cited the statis­tic that he was Eng­land’s lead­ing wick­et­taker in the win­ter se­ries in South Africa; and so he was.

But he was the only spe­cial­ist bowler to play in all four Tests, and had the new ball ev­ery game; half of his 14 wick­ets were num­bers seven to 11 in the South African bat­ting or­der; and he dis­missed a South African open­ing bats­man only once.

An im­pres­sive fact on the sur­face that he was Eng­land’s lead­ing wicket-taker, but not per­haps the whole pic­ture.

Broad has rein­vented him­self by ac­quir­ing a wider va­ri­ety of skills, and he has rein­vented his own nar­ra­tive. One of his themes has long been that an­other magic spell is “around the corner” – and at Old Traf­ford there were echoes of those heady days when he kicked up his heels, ar­rowed in at the top of West In­dian off stumps, or thumped into their pads, arms raised in cel­e­bra­tion of the wicket more than in ap­peal to the um­pire.

The cruel re­al­ity, how­ever, is that in the 4½ years since his last magic spell at Johannesbu­rg in Jan­uary 2016, Broad has taken five wick­ets in an in­nings – the nor­mal yard­stick to prove pen­e­tra­tion – only twice. Of course, it is a dif­fi­cult feat when Eng­land have five bowlers on tap, but be­fore then Broad had achieved it 15 times.

Cleaned up: Stu­art Broad took three early wick­ets to put Eng­land on course for vic­tory, his sec­ond com­ing as he bowled Shai Hope

Eng­land need open­ing bowlers who can do heavy lift­ing, not rely on Stokes the bat­ter­ing ram

His elo­quence has masked a grad­ual, and nat­u­ral, de­cline. In his 28 Tests at home since Johannesbu­rg, armed with Dukes balls, Broad has been so eco­nom­i­cal that he has low­ered his Test av­er­age to 28.

Mean­while, in his 21 Tests abroad, in­clud­ing last win­ter in South Africa, he has taken 57 wick­ets at 30 – and the next Ashes se­ries will be abroad, in Aus­tralia.

Re­al­ity there will be even cru­eller if Broad is se­lected for the next Ashes tour, as a player that is, not a com­men­ta­tor. The English pace bowler who suc­ceeds in Aus­tralia is young, on the way up, in his prime; canny fast-medium thrift has never worked.

So, Eng­land’s se­lec­tors can feel re­lieved that their play­ers have pegged this se­ries back to 1-1 and can still re­gain the Wis­den Tro­phy. But they have to ap­pre­ci­ate that, for all the fine talk, Broad and James An­der­son are not go­ing to win an­other Test for Eng­land in Aus­tralia – they have not done so since 2010-11 – and game time this sum­mer should be given to those who might do so, es­pe­cially as it is con­ceiv­able there will be no Test cricket this win­ter.

Eng­land need open­ing bowlers who can do heavy lift­ing with a ball that has gone soft, not rely on Ben Stokes to be the bat­ter­ing ram, as he was on the fi­nal af­ter­noon at Old Traf­ford, breaking the one sig­nif­i­cant West In­dian part­ner­ship when the tourists needed two to sur­vive. Stokes’s knees might not still be func­tion­ing for bowl­ing pur­poses in 18 months’ time.

If there is scope for any of Eng­land’s ex­ist­ing fast-medium bowlers to go to Aus­tralia, it could be Woakes, who has been steadily im­prov­ing abroad, al­though not enough to im­pact on Aus­tralia last time.

Not An­der­son, and not Broad, ex­cept as a new gen­er­a­tion of com­men­ta­tors.

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