Broad proves his value to England
Posted in England in West Indies 2009
On a day when England’s finest were snapped up by the Indian Premier League, it was ironic that a player who opted out of the tournament was their best performer.
Stuart Broad revealed last month that he would not be taking part in the world’s most lucrative and talked-about competition, a decision which was greeted by widespread acclaim.
So while Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff and company awoke this morning with a much heftier bank balance, Broad chose the third day of the opening Test in Jamaica to enhance his reputation as England’s most promising seamer.
His reasons for shunning the IPL were admirable - he wanted to channel his energies towards a hectic international summer - and his employers, at the ECB and Nottinghamshire, cannot fail to have been impressed by such an approach.
That is not to infer for one moment that Pietersen, Flintoff, Paul Collingwood, Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara should be afforded anything less than the utmost respect - far from it; as the country’s finest exponents of the one-day game, they deserve their bumper payday.
Yet Broad further endeared himself to the England management, team-mates and fans alike courtesy of an eye-catching display with the ball to spearhead the tourists’ fightback today.
There was no guarantee, of course, that the 22-year-old would have been bought had he thrown his name into the hat for today’s IPL auction - just ask Samit Patel and Luke Wright - but franchise owners could not fail to have been impressed had they been at Sabina Park this afternoon.
Broad bowled Chris Gayle for 104 on the stroke of lunch to break a potentially match-shaping second-wicket stand of 202, then removed Xavier Marshall two balls later.
He also accounted for Shivnarine Chanderpaul, arguably the most obdurate batsman on the planet, during an afternoon session in which he led the England attack with aplomb.
For all his obvious attributes, pace and bounce most prevalent among them, it is Broad’s attitude which has marked him out as an exceptional talent.
Thus the ability to bounce back from a poor showing yesterday - his eight wicketless overs cost 36 - was one of the most notable features of his sterling performance today, when he returned figures of 3-25 off 16 overs.
Never less than wholly committed, Broad bowled with controlled aggression throughout, maintaining a strict line on around off stump on a pitch where the importance of patience for batsmen and bowlers alike is becoming ever more apparent.
Such an approach yielded the wicket of Gayle, who was hardly helped by a lack of bounce, while Marshall and Chanderpaul were trapped on the crease by balls arrowing in to the top of the stumps.
An intelligent player, Broad mixed his pace up well, especially as the ball got older later in the day, and he refused to let frustration get the better of him even as he was beating the bat deep into the evening session.
If Broad took the accolades for a display high on maturity - it is worth remembering this is only his 11th Test - credit is also due to the rest of the England attack, all of whom bowled with considerably more menace than 24 hours previous.
Flintoff set the tone with an aggressive yet economical burst to start the day - we have come to expect anything less from the nation’s most reliable bowler - and Ryan Sidebottom dispelled any doubts over a lack of rhythm after more than six months without playing a Test.
The left-arm seamer has conceded just 35 runs in 24 overs thus far and, though he has failed to take a wicket in over a day and half's play, his control was pivotal to keeping West Indies in check as they eyed a sizeable first-innings lead.
Monty Panesar also played his part in restricting the scoring, particularly during a 30-over afternoon session which limited West Indies to 47 runs, 14 of which came from Denesh Ramdin’s bat during an unexpected flurry on the stroke of tea.
The presence of Chanderpaul and Brendan Nash - two of cricket’s stodgiest players - had helped England regain control in the field, with both batsmen showing little inclination to reprise Gayle’s occasionally aggressive tactics.
Maybe it was no surprise that Nash, the Australia-born left-hander who once spent almost an hour and a half getting off the mark in a Pura Cup game for Queensland, dropped anchor from the moment he arrived at the crease.
His first boundary came off the 70th ball he received, and he had faced 146 in total for his unbeaten 47 at the close.
Quite how he has the temerity to use a bat emblazoned with the word ‘Smasher’ is anyone’s guess.