x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Why are England going for the Stuart Broad approach?

Stuart Broad's temperament has been found wanting and I believe selectors had numerous other options when it came to picking the Twenty20 captain.

England's Stuart Broad, centre, has exchanged words with many batsmen in his career.
England's Stuart Broad, centre, has exchanged words with many batsmen in his career.

It seems like ages since Kevin Pietersen was handed the England captaincy on the basis the batsman was the only player guaranteed to play for them in all three forms of the game.

His appointment was always going to end in tears, and it has taken just over two years for the powers that be at Lord's to undertake a total volte-face in its leadership policy.

From now on, there will be three different captains across the separate formats.

In two cases, those of Andrew Strauss as the Test captain and Alastair Cook in the 50-over form, the safest hands available are on the tiller.

Then they have, with uncharacteristic lateral thinking, opted for a complete wild card for the Twenty20 game.

It is a long time since anyone regarded international Twenty20 as a hit-and-giggle.

Yet England's management must have been having a laugh when they decided that Stuart Broad was the best choice to captain in the shortest form of the game.

The fact they have three captains now suggests they are less concerned by the lack of continuity than they were before.

As such, they had the pick of all the players likely to play in each of the formats, which makes the Broad appointment all the more strange.

There were numerous other candidates with much better credentials.

Graeme Swann said he had suspected something was up when Broad, who is also his county teammate at Nottinghamshire, came round to borrow his England tie the day before the announcement was made.

It is not just his tie he pinched, but his place in the queue.

In spite of his jokey demeanour, Swann is the best-performing England bowler, and far more likely to hatch a cunning plan and execute it calmly than Broad.

At 29, Ian Bell is finally starting to deliver on his undoubted potential and is better for the testing experiences of his early career.

He seems the most similar to Paul Collingwood, the reticent leader who guided England to the World Twenty20 title last year.

Even the youthful Eoin Morgan would have been a better option. England's best Twenty20 batsman has fire in the belly but also ice on the mind. In Broad's case, he just has the fire.

Broad is a rambunctious cricketer who does not usually go for too long without attracting the attention of match officials.

That is fine. England's limited-overs cricket has suffered due to its timidity for far too long, and a bit of aggression and spark might be just what is required. But there are ways and means of going about getting it.

Usually, Broad cannot keep his emotions in check when something as routine as a misfield happens off his bowling.

If someone fumbles one in the outfield, they usually attract a sullen look at best, or a flea in their ear at worst.

What will he be like if, say, a batsman gives away a game from a winning position, or a bowler oversteps at a crucial juncture in the game?

He could lose the dressing room in the space of one tirade, and not necessarily reclaim it.

It remains to be seen how he will respond when India's Virender Sehwag or Sri Lanka's Tillakaratne Dilshan start to feast on his bowling in the Twenty20s during their tours of England this summer.

If he still has the armband when England travel to the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka next year, it will be a shock.

 

pradley@thenational.ae