Yes, I know another article about Broad is probably the last thing you want right now. How many times have we heard messrs Holding, Botham and Atherton pathetically ask, “what type of bowler does he want to be?” and the nation instantly divides into two camps; ‘line and length’ vs ‘bang it in and take wickets’.
This debate rages on and poor Stuart clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing. What seems patently obvious to The Leading Edge is that he does not have to become one or the other, choosing to bowl line and length for the rest of his career in some Faustian pact with Otis Gibson.
Let us rewind to those heady days when Broad was a young pup bowling at Leicestershire and gaining male, and for other reasons female, fans across the board. What dazzled spectators and turned the eye of the selectors was the line and length Broad could produce with the new ball. In one Twenty20 match he simply bored out a boisterous Ronnie Irani determined to ‘teach this kid a lesson’ with McGrath like consistency. The resulting hawkeye analysis was poetry for the eyes.
But then came Broad the artist who bowled a variety of cutters, slower bouncers and deliveries from three feet wide of the crease to make him England’s best quick bowler in the Caribbean on some uninspiring pitches with Chanderpaul and Sarwan parking the proverbial bus at the other end. There is a reason why he has developed into one of the best one day bowlers in the world.
In short, Broad is capable of being exactly the kind of bowler a captain craves, one who can come on and bowl five maidens or one who can probe away at a batsman, go at 5 an over and take wickets. The problem is that no-one has told him which Broad he should be in different occasions. Too often he has come on as the fourth seamer with Australia cruising and failed to put on any pressure when this is what is required of him.
This is what the Ashes does to teams. They get carried away with the exuberance of the occasion and go crazy. 2005 was a great series because, in many ways, the players judged it so awfully and wickets tumbled as a consequence. This time it is clearly affecting Broad, who with his insatiable lust for the glory of wickets in such a big series and desire to move back up the bowling pecking order, has come to lose his head. Sometimes you have to bore a batsman out, make him be creative with his shots, not you with your bowling. Flower, Strauss and Gibson need to keep their heads and tell Broad this.
This way they will get the most out of Broad making him the great player his talent merits.