Stuart Broad was sore at not being picked for the first Test of the ongoing home series between England and West Indies. By the time the visitors wrapped up proceedings with an emphatic 4 wicket win at the Ageas Bowl many in the England camp were left wondering if the Nottinghamshire quick wouldn’t have been a wiser pick.
England went with tearaway Mark Wood as Stuart Broad warmed the bench at Southampton. Mark Wood wasn’t impressive in the 36 overs he bowled both in the innings in the first Test, conceding 110 runs and picking just two wickets, including the prized scalp of Shai Hope.
Sensing their selection error while not acknowledging it, England made a necessary course correction going into the second Test, bringing in Broad for Wood and Chris Woakes for James Anderson, who, too, failed to make an impact in the Southampton Test. Surrey left-arm seamer Sam Curran came in for the fiery Joffra Archer, who sat out the Test for what the English think-tank said was ‘ protocol breach’.
Speaking on his omission in the first Test, Broad let his misgivings known, saying, “To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement. It is quite a hard decision to understand. I’ve probably bowled the best I’ve ever bowled in the last couple of years.”
Saying he was ‘angry’ at being made to watch the game from the sidelines, the Nottinghamshire quick said, “You can’t argue that the bowlers walking on that field don’t deserve to play, it’s just annoying when it’s not you in the playing XI.”
Immediate difference maker
Stuart Broad’s inclusion made an immediate difference to English fortunes as he put together a crucial 42 run 10th wicket partnership with off-spinner Dom Bess, pushing England’s first innings score beyond 450.
He then shone with the ball in the Islanders’ first dig, picking up 3 wickets for 63 runs. More importantly, coming good at a time when Sharmah Brooks looked set for a big score and was building a partnership with Roston Chase.
The crucial wicket of Brooks changed the course of West Indies innings finally drawing curtains on it at 287, just 45 runs after Brooks wicket. Stuart Broad picked 3 wickets in 13 balls changing the course of the game.
With the Caribbeans falling short of England’s first innings total of 469, the English think-tank shuffled its batting pack sending Ben Stokes and Joss Buttler to open the innings. England declared at 129/3, with Stokes finishing with a strokeful unbeaten 78.
Set a target of 311, with little over two sessions to play on the fifth day, the Islanders collapsed to 198 all out. Broad was in amongst the wickets again, scalping another three to finish with a match haul of six.
A better encore
However, it’s the ongoing third Test at Old Trafford where the Nottinghamshire quick has really come into his own. While England finished the first day at 262 for the loss of five wickets, with Ollie Pope and Buttler staying unbeaten, the Islanders made a comeback of sorts in the morning session of the second day, reducing the Three Lions to 280/8.
However, any hope the Caribbeans may have had of bowling out England for under 300 was dashed by Stuart Broad, as the southpaw scored a counter-attacking 62 off 45 balls to take his team to 369.
With the ball, the tall quick was at his devastating best, running through the Windies line-up and finishing with 6/31 in their first innings. England piled on the Caribbean misery, declaring at 226/2 and setting an imposing target of 489 for the Islanders. Holder’s men finished the day reeling at 10/2, with Stuart Broad picking up both wickets to fall.
The Caribbeans now stare at the real danger of being rolled over on the fourth day itself. With their batting having hopelessly misfired in three innings since the Southampton win, another spineless display will see them surrender the series they opened with a win.
Given how Broad is going in the longer format, it’s hard to see the England selectors looking beyond him in the foreseeable future.