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Broad silences his critics

Posted in England v India 2011

Stuart Broad

Stuart Broad has enjoyed a stunning upturn in fortunes in the last two npower Tests

It has been said that you only find out how strong any cricketer’s mental strength is when their position in the team comes under threat.

If that’s true, then Stuart Broad’s will must be made of iron after he emphatically answered his critics with a phenomenal bowling spell in India’s first innings in the second npower Test at Trent Bridge.

The all-rounder took five wickets for no runs in the space of 16 balls, including a hat-trick when Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar fell in successive balls, just a day after he had top-scored with a fearless innings of 64.

It was less than two weeks ago that the 25-year-old’s place was under serious scrutiny after a poor return against Sri Lanka earlier in the summer culminated in him being dropped from the NatWest Series decider at Old Trafford.

The doubters – and I am not ashamed to put myself in this group – bemoaned Broad’s excessive use of the short ball and the fact he was constantly being referred to as England’s ‘enforcer’.

Coach Andy Flower hit out at the aggressive role shortly before the first Test at Lord’s, believing that Broad was capable of being a world-class bowler if he bowled a fuller length.

It was not a criticism from the Zimbabwean, more a gentle reminder to improve his accuracy, but Flower deserves praise as his words have seemed to re-invigorate his charge.

Broad took seven wickets at the home of cricket, as well as a crucial innings of 74 not out when England were struggling on 102 for six, to prove his worth to the team.

That pales into insignificance when you think of his efforts yesterday, which left any remaining doubters - and yes, I was still in this group - eating copious amounts of humble pie.

It has never tasted so delicious.

His destruction of India's lower order will go down as one of the great spells from an Englishman, alongside Ian Botham’s five scalps for one run against Australia in 1981, Jim Laker’s 10-wicket haul against the same opposition in 1956 and, more recently, Steve Harmison’s 7-12 against the West Indies in 2004.

Broad revealed last night that he thought lady luck had deserted him earlier this year.

“I don’t think I bowled particularly badly at the start of the year, I just didn’t have much luck and nothing seemed to be going my way,” he said.

“But cricket’s like that, it can turn around pretty quickly if you keep that belief and if you keep positive.

“We’ve got some great people around this England changing room that have really helped me out and it’s been about keeping that belief and wanting to take wickets.

“Fortunately with that slightly fuller length I’ve managed to find in the last one-and-a-half Test matches, it brings a few more dismissals into play and that seems to be working for me at the minute.”

I do not think for one second it is any coincidence that Broad’s stock has risen immeasurably since he’s bowled a predominantly fuller length.

But what do I know? I would have endorsed dropping him in favour of Tim Bresnan a week and a half ago.

Another slice of humble pie? Yes please!