Stuart Broad took the plaudits for his seven wicket performance in the second innings at Lords against New Zealand. Rightly so, it was a terrific performance. We all know Broad is capable of such displays, he has done it before. However they do not happen often enough.
Broad took the man of the match award for his efforts in the first test against New Zealand. In truth though he had not done anything before his last innings overs. Broad serves up so many bad deliveries and is more often than not an ineffectual and redundant member of the England bowling attack. Many times it seems baffling that he makes the test team at all, except for his position as twenty twenty captain and of course his influential father. Geoffrey Boycott was critical of Broad during the first few days of this test, expressing the view that he contributes very little to the bowling attack on so many occasions. Yet, when Broad gets on these little runs all the rubbish he has produced seems to be forgotten.
Is it worth waiting for the good spells? Should England except test after test, over after over, ball after ball of redundant, ineffective bowling waiting for the rare moments of genius where he rattles off five wicket hauls? Would a bowler who takes three or four wickets in an innings consistently not be a better option that one who very rarely takes any wickets and occasionally takes five, six or seven? I would argue that Broad is lucky to keep his place in the test team and does so purely because every time he is looking vulnerable produces this quick burst of inspiration.
England are not short of fast bowling alternatives. Tim Bresnan was unlucky to miss out this week, while Graham Onions, Chris Tremlett, Chris Woakes and many others are not far from the England frame. Broad needs to produce form more consistently and if not he should come under serious pressure for his place. It would seem he has a guaranteed spot in the team and that should not be the case. His bowling is average and the batting that people claim he possesses is simply not present any more.
So yes, applaud his efforts in the Lords Test. But let’s not forget what goes before the seven or eight overs of wicket taking efforts. More often than not Broad is a passenger in the England attack and we shouldn’t look past that as a result of the all too rare moments of brilliance.