How Stuart Broad has proven his point


Controversially, Stuart Broad was left out for England’s first test against the West Indies.

The experienced bowler, England’s rock for a decade, dropped? You can’t be rested after a six month break.

Questions were already being asked of the selectors for dropping the 34 year-old, and of the stand-in skipper Ben Stokes for batting when winning the toss. The decisions were not vindicated.

His arguable replacements, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, picked up just one wicket in the first innings as the West Indies scored 318, leading by 114 from the first innings.

JM Anderson 25 11 62 3 2.48 0 0
JC Archer 22 3 61 0 2.77 0 1
MA Wood 22 2 74 1 3.36 0 0
BA Stokes 14 5 49 4 3.50 0 0
DM Bess 19 5 51 2 2.68 0 0

(source ESPN Cricinfo)

Archer picked up three in the second innings but it was in vain – the West Indies knocked off the 200 required with four wickets remaining. Wood was wicketless.

This left England with a selection issue coming into a crucial test at Old Trafford – bring back Broad? Drop Wood? Archer? Anderson?

They did all four.

To be frank, Jofra Archer made the decision to drop him very much easier as he decided to foolishly break lockdown rules – he visited family in Brighton. Not a crime in itself, but an act of stupidity given the situation.

This immediately gave a pathway back for Broad, but also incited the recall of Sam Curran and Chris Woakes, alongside the return of skipper Joe Root in place of club 18-31 regular Joe Denly.

It’s fair to say it is harsh on the veteran Anderson who didn’t play poorly in the opener, but all three on their return proved their point and made them undroppable.

Firstly Curran. 22 years-old but full of energy and composure for a man so young. His left-arm option swinging the ball back into right handers always seems to pick up vital wickets, and he did so with the dismissal of top scorer Shamarh Brooks for 62.

Woakes – never has there been a more satisfying, textbook cricketer in my generation.

Not the quickest, the most gifted, or the taker of the most wickets – but the Warwickshire man has a beautiful man-made technique. His seam position, with his wrist in perfect placement adjacent to the leather, is just fantastic to watch for any cricket nerd.

He also picked up five wickets in the test match, with his 3-42 in the first innings the standout figures.

And arguably the man of the match except Ben Stokes, the returning Stuart Broad. Living proof that an old dog can definitively learn new tricks.

Embed from Getty Images

Nasser Hussain did a piece on Sky commentary looking at Broad’s length from 2014-2020, and there’s a hell of a difference which shows how Broad has evolved his game.

The former England skipper found that Broad’s length is now half a metre fuller than it was in 2014 – and, as his pace has had the edge taken off it, is very useful.

Credit has to go to Joe Root and Chris Silverwood for persisting with Broad, as previous captains and coaches haven’t when it comes to length.

He’s taken 93 wickets since 2018 – 43 have been LBW or Bowled, including five of his six in this match.

Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson will always be tarred with the same brush because of how inseparable they are, and how they have worked in tandem for so long in England’s bowling attack,

But since Jimmy Anderson was 34, he has taken 130 test wickets. He is now 38.

There is still time for Broad to evolve and develop and with his new style, it only gives him further longevity and ability to bowl sides out later on in test matches.

An old dog can learn new tricks, and Stuart Broad has mastered his.


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Sports Journalism student, streamer at LFC Transfer Room, Anfield Agenda. Liverpool fan with a particular interest in Welsh, Youth, and African football.

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