x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Choice of Stuart Broad is a mystery

Surprisingly, Stuart Broad has taken just 10 wickets in the last five Test matches and was retained ahead of Finn but also given the new ball.

Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss have hardly put a foot wrong since replacing the ill-fated reign of Peter Moores and Kevin Pietersen, leading England to the cusp of the No 1 Test side position. Yet their credibility is being undermined at present by their blind faith in Stuart Broad.

Broad has taken just 10 wickets in the last five Tests and was curiously not only retained for the current Test match against Sri Lanka ahead of Steven Finn, who had taken 22 in the same period, but also given the new ball. The side must be being picked on reputation rather than form.

Broad is still living off the back of the series-defining five-wicket haul against Australia in 2009 and his hundred in the Test against Pakistan last summer that will forever be remember for the spot-fixing controversy.

England will also be loath to drop a player they recently named as captain of their Twenty20 side. Naming a player with a suspect temperament who selfishly uses up the team's quota of referrals on his own bowling or batting is also highly contentious.

The England management must take a fair share of the blame for Broad's decline since he burst on to the scene as a fresh-faced swing bowler in 2006. He has been developed into the attack's enforcer and wastes too many balls by banging them in short halfway down the track.

Indeed, in bowler-friendly conditions in the current Test he only picked the wicket of Sri Lanka's last man while James Anderson and Chris Tremlett shared eight wickets by pitching the ball up.

 

kaffleck@thenational.ae