Broad proves indispensable
Posted in England v Pakistan (in UAE) 2012
Form is temporary; class is permanent. So the sporting cliché goes. Stuart Broad has spent the last six months making just that point.
Given the paceman’s sublime form, it is scarcely believable many were calling for him to be dropped from England’s Test team last June.
Broad had returned to action following a frustrating winter during which his Ashes and World Cup involvement were cut short by torn abdominal muscle and a side strain respectively.
His first international game back ended well enough with Broad doubling his two first-innings wickets to help skittle Sri Lanka for 82 in England’s remarkable Test win at the SWALEC Stadium.
However, he managed only two wickets in each of the drawn matches at Lord’s - where he hit a fifty - and the Rose Bowl. Calls for England’s new Twenty20 captain to make way in Tests intensified with only four wickets in five limited-overs internationals versus Sri Lanka.
England kept faith in their bowling all-rounder and were immediately rewarded in the series opener at Lord’s where three top-order wickets aided a comfortable first-innings lead. He took three more in the second to end with seven in the match.
Better followed with a man-of-the-match display at Trent Bridge. Broad backed up a smooth half-century with 6-46, including a hat-trick that had his home ground rocking. A rapid knock of 44 gave him a triple-figure aggregate and his eighth match wicket completed victory, as he had done in the previous encounter and at Cardiff.
The Edgbaston and Kia Oval Tests - innings wins in which Broad’s batting was not required - yielded a combined 10 more wickets. With 25 in the series, he was re-established as an indispensable member in all three formats.
Broad remained a consistent wicket-taker in the limited-overs contests, but he suffered a muscle tear in his right shoulder during the tied fourth one-day international at Lord’s. That ruled him out of the T20 series with West Indies and the tour of India.
Despite not having played competitively for four months, Broad hit the ground running in the United Arab Emirates.
He was exemplary in Pakistan’s first innings during the opener at Dubai, returning 3-84 from 31 disciplined overs as England’s bowlers kept the game alive.
The tall right-armer was the outstanding seamer at Abu Dhabi with combined figures of 5-83 from 44 overs. He also struck a counter-attacking unbeaten fifty to give England a first-innings lead of 70.
Today Broad was at his metronomic best, earning yet more comparisons with Australia great Glenn McGrath.
Having been unfortunate not to have Mohammad Hafeez held off an edge in his first over, he had Azhar Ali and Younus Khan caught behind with deliveries that moved in opposite directions.
Misbah-ul-Haq and Adnan Akmal were trapped in front despite reviews and, had his team-mates not removed the tail, Broad would surely have claimed at least a deserved five-wicket haul?