After such a slow start to the game the first test finished at break neck speed today – and what a performance by Stuart Broad to raise the chequered flag.
Not only did he club 20 odd important runs (not out) as England’s innings came to a quick and disappointing end but he followed that by a spell of supreme fast-medium bowling which decimated the New Zealand order.
When Broad is on-song like that he was today there is simply no stopping him and he can be virtually unplayable. The last time he delivered a performance like this was against the Old Enemy at the Oval in the 2009 Ashes clash. I recorded the highlights of that day’s play and kept them for a few years just so I could watch it again and again. That day he got a 5‑for, claiming the scalps of Watson, Ponting, Hussey, Clarke and Haddin – so pretty much the Australian top order.
There was nothing any batsman could have done. As well as the 5 wickets there were countless plays and misses and beatings of the bat. He could have bagged the lot. It was very much like a certain Aussie fast-medium bowler.… his name escapes me.… took a few wickets he did.…oh yes, Glenn McGrath.
And the same today – but this time even more wickets. The trick now is to get Broad firing like this much more often. He clearly has the talent and the self assurance. Interestingly in the Oval test back in 2009 England batted first with Broad, who has been out of form with the willow of late, hitting some important late order runs. Any coincidence?
Broad’s heroics (and let’s not forget James Anderson claimed a 5‑for in the Kiwi’s first innings and two wickets in their second) disguised some England failings with the bat. OK it was a low scoring game but pretty much all of the top order (including Prior who had a game to forget with the bat) failed. Root was the only stand out exception and the kid clearly has a massive future. Trott did OK but the jury is still out on Root’s Yorkshire team-mate Bairstow and if KP returns for the Ashes it is likely Bairstow will make way. Eoin Morgan is currently plying his trade in the freak show that is the IPL. He has made that choice and so can stay there. Odds are that it would have been between Morgan and Bairstow for that final middle order spot but Morgan chose riches over glory. His call.
The next test is only five days away in Headingley and it’s likely England will be largely unchanged. Bresnan might displace Finn who had a rather muted game (his four wickets in the first innings flattered him a little) but then again my predictions this match left something to be desired.
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