Monday, August 15

Broad’s bittersweet blitz proves a point it shouldn’t have had to make | Stuart broad


TOAround 5:30 on the second afternoon, Joe Root turned back to Stuart Broad and asked him to come back for his sixth period of the inning. The sun was a little lower, but other than that, the only thing that had changed since his last one ended, less than an hour earlier, was that Australia had moved on. The two batsmen Broad had been bowling to at the time, Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Starc, were still in, and that much better set, Mark Wood was out of luck, James Anderson was out of inspiration, the The association was up to 40 races and Australia was approaching a total of 400.

Whatever little flicker of hope England had when the last wicket fell had faded again, leaving everyone who participated in it feeling even more foolish for thinking it would ever be otherwise. That fits. The decision to leave Broad out of the team for the first two of the first three Tests was a bit of judgment that will come to define this tour, as well as the career of the coach who performed it. As Broad said, given the way England hit in those games, picking him wouldn’t have made that much of a difference. But at least it would have shown that management knew who was in their best XI.

Now that he had been selected, Broad didn’t need much persuasion to come back for that extra spell. He needed one more window for his top five and a spot on SCG’s honors board alongside his father Chris, who made a century there in 1988.

It had been 18 months since Broad last took five wickets in one inning, against the West Indies at Old Trafford in 2020. Of course, he missed the final months of that stretch after breaking his calf during a training session. before the second test against India during the summer just disappeared. It was a serious injury, requiring surgery and three months of recovery. Kevin Pietersen warned Broad that a similar injury had ended his playing career. Broad is 35 years old and has a second life scheduled on television, there must have been times when he was moved and left if it would end his as well.

For the first two weeks, she couldn’t even put her foot down. After that, there were long hours of stepping into the water in a pool, followed, as she got fitter, by solitary sessions on the road and in the gym, then trips to the Wimbledon Cricket Club for tentative nets, and trips. lonely to Loughborough. bowl stretches 10, 12, 14 overs in front of his rehab team. On the front of his mind all the time, the lure of one more tour of Australia, and the prospect of catching the new ball in the early innings in Brisbane and bowling again with David Warner. The promise made it happen.

Of course it didn’t work out the way I had dreamed of, it rarely does. Broad has ended up being a supporting actor on the tour, chosen for a test on a flat track in Adelaide and then another now, the series is over. There was a time when he would have talked about how exactly he felt about it, as he did when they pulled him out of the Test against the West Indies at the 2020 Rose Bowl, but this time he has tried, a few minor complaints aside, to bite his lip. The men chosen before him, Ollie Robinson and James Anderson, made a strong case with their windows, and besides, there were many other good judges who defended Broad’s point for him in the newspapers and on television.

Stuart Broad celebrates Usman Khawaja's wicket in Sydney
Stuart Broad celebrates the Usman Khawaja wicket in Sydney. Photograph: Dean Lewins / EPA

It must have left him answering those same questions over and over again, about whether, and why, exactly, he wanted to keep spanking himself for a team that didn’t seem to qualify him enough to pick him when they needed him. He said prior to this test that he was not going to make an impromptu call about retirement. He says he will make the decision between now and the spring tour of the West Indies. But first, he had something to prove.

This was the nineteenth five of Broad’s career. The highlights make it look as good as any of them. He got Warner, of course, in the classic way, only the two of them must have imagined it, with a delivery from around the wicket zigzagging one way and then the other, Steve Smith too, and Cameron Green trapped behind. with similar deliveries, then a vicious janitor to take out Pat Cummins, and a cutter who had enough to beat Usman Khawaja to finish. That last one was his 125th in Ashes cricket. Among the English, only Ian Botham has more, with 128.

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But it wasn’t his best bowling alley, Broad often takes his windows in fits and starts, there was none of that this time, just a lot of craftsmanship, sweat and work. It took him 29 overs (the last time he bowled that many in an inning where he won five was in 2009) and there were times when Khawaja, Starc and Nathan Lyon were on him, when he looked as vulnerable as any of his Teammates. But he persisted, releasing a line and a length that the data showed he had often struggled to find on his previous three tours here. He also took more false shots from hitters than in the past. And he made his point. How bittersweet for the team that arrived so late.


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