Some players carve a position for themselves in cricket where their performances render them effectively undroppable.
Sachin Tendulkar is one of those. He is a batsman playing his 192nd Test match, but has not scored a century since his 177th, and averaged 33.15 since that time. If a debutant had had Tendulkar's 15-Test, two-year stretch, it's doubtful he would have had enjoyed a continued run in the team.
What keeps Tendulkar in the team is the small matter of 15,000 Test runs, 51 centuries, almost a quarter of a century of international experience, and a culture of unwavering trust and belief in him. His first runs in his home town of Mumbai on day one of the second Test were applauded by the press box. If you drop Tendulkar, you might as well shoot Bambi's mother while you're at it.
Is Stuart Broad as undroppable? He shouldn't be — and it wouldn't draw a fraction of the public grief that would accompany Tendulkar's axing — but there was a sense that it would have taken something extraordinary to oust him as the all-rounder lined up for another England outing.
Broad got the nod despite an abrupt loss of form — since June, he takes his wickets at 48.54, and averages 14 with the bat. He was also picked despite being sufficiently unwell on the eve of the Test not to practice. Would others in the team have been afforded that same luxury? If the answer is no, the question is whether Broad deserves special status, or extra patience?
Broad has been spared a sterner test of his five-day credentials because Steven Finn did not recover from injury in time to be in selectorial contention.
The concern for England with Broad is that having made what appeared to be a huge — and final — breakthrough with the ball in the last 18 months is that having scaled these new heights his form has fallen straight off a cliff.
Having blown through India in English conditions, he then bowled superbly in trying conditions on England's visit to the subcontinent in early 2012, before taking career-best figures against the West Indies in the first part of the summer. It prompted Cow Corner to ask back in May whether the 25-year-old would go on to become England's all-time leading wicket-taker.
As a young cricketer, time is still on his side to achieve that, but the setbacks since have been substantial. First, he was part of the England seam attack so comprehensively outbowled by South Africa over three Test matches.
That could have been seen as a reminder that he still has yet to completely find himself at elite level — instead, in the reshuffle following Andrew Strauss' resignation as captain, Broad was promoted to vice-captain of the Test team.
Too much, too soon? England have no shortage of senior players to which they could have turned. Matt Prior would have been an excellent candidate, while James Anderson has developed into a leader of the bowling attack, often-consulted on field settings. Graeme Swann too would have been a wildcard option with no shortage of experience to draw from.
Indeed, with so many players now boasting years of international cricket in what has been a settled England side, what need was there for a vice-captain at all? There is support for Cook, who has not missed any of England's last 83 Tests, and a decision on a stand-in could be made on an ad-hoc basis. Instead, what the appointment has created is another way that Broad is more integral to the team, to make it more pointed a statement to drop him.
He has been entrusted with 36 overs in this series to date, and has conceded 157 runs without taking a wicket. Today, having been backed, he was by a stretch England's worst option. His 12 overs, costing 60, told their own story.
When Broad's place was last seriously questioned in the summer of 2011, it was because he had taken it upon himself to be England's 'enforcer' — a cricketer who aimed to rough up opposition rather than bowl at them. His struggles in Ahmedabad could be heavily mitigated by wretched conditions for the seam bowlers, but once he saw that there was a bit more life in the Wankhede Stadium, Broad fell headlong into old habits, charging in and trying to bounce out the opposition. The little swing the new ball offered was quickly wasted, while in addition his line and length went awry in his latter spells. Equally worryingly, his pace remains in the low-80mph range, appreciably down on his efforts in previous series.
If it is fight that Broad is trying to show, then the bouncer is not the way to do it. Nor is taking to Twitter and venting at "'experts' being negative", as he did in the wake of the Ahmedabad defeat. The answer is the same as ever — bowl fast, full and straight, and hope that the ball does just enough to trouble the batsmen.
Assuming Broad continues to play the role of participating bystander in this Test, England have a difficult choice to make over his short-term future.
Dropping players is not always the answer — England persisted with Cook through a trough in form in 2010, and the results since have spoken for themselves. By contrast, the likes of Ian Bell and James Anderson have been cast aside, only to return stronger and more determined from their time on the sidelines. No matter how justified criticism is of Broad's current performances, the question the selectors need to address is how to get the best out of a talented player in the coming years.
But if Finn is back in the equation by the third Test, it's hard to envisage a place for Broad in the team on form. Even if he is not, there remains a compelling argument to hand a debut Stuart Meaker, whose skiddy pace is a different weapon from anything the other touring seamers can offer.
No player should ever be undroppable, however — not the Little Master, with his 23 years of international experience, and certainly not Broad, who has considerably fewer past glories to trade on, and is still relying on what might yet come for a man who has been on the international scene for half a decade.