The penny has finally dropped for
Stuart Broad, and boy did he come good: bowl a full length, draw the batsmen
forward, and rewards will follow.
Broad has long been maligned for
his seeming incapability to bowl in the batsman's half of the wicket, coupled
with England's defensive deployment of his talents.
Indeed, given the apparent
predictability of the lanky seamer's length, Cowers was among the many people
pacing around in frustration as Broad was once again preferred to the
blisteringly in-form Timmy Bresnan on Thursday.
The agitation grew further when
England were batting as Broad, who was apparently picked to serve the 'overall
shape of the side', was dismissed for a golden duck, while Bresnan was rampant
in the Roses clash in taking four quick wickets in impressive fashion.
But Broad delivered a
spell of three wickets for just one run from six overs and even could have - and
should have - had two more.
if the two dropped catches off Broad's bowling - from Andrew Strauss and Graeme
Swann, respectively - had been taken, he would have finished with figures of six
bowler has been the sorry subject of "enforcer" jokes ever since Australian
bowling coach David Saker dropped that tag into a press conference, only for it
to be hastily denied by head coach Andy Flower.
Question marks have surrounded
his spot in the side for many months now and, with Steven Finn and Bresnan both
pushing desperately for his spot, it was thought that he was on borrowed time.
But, as has been the way in this
Test match with Kevin Pietersen having already emphatically confounded his
critics with a double century, so too did Broad put his selection beyond doubt
with a sparkling display.
Not only did Broad take four
wickets, but each was key (well, except perhaps that of Praveen Kumar, despite
his jaunty 17): both openers looked well set until the seamer claimed their
The paceman then spoilt the great
Sachin Tendulkar's day as the Little Master chased his 100th international
century, only to become Broad's third victim as he was rewarded for a third
time for sustaining a testing full length.
Even critics of Broad's bowling
have never doubted his ability to be a success at the top level; the accusation
has always been levelled at him that he can't mix up his approach and find
additional dimensions to his spells.
But this was Broad at his best,
and he got the ball to wobble off the seam in both directions, swing the ball
both ways and all at a spirited pace which kept even the cream of India's
batting line up pegged firmly back on the crease.
As we all took such delight in
saying at stumps on day two following KP's exploits, another of England's
so-called 'under pressure men' delivered to alleviate some of the scrutiny
their place in the side had been put under.
Most importantly, Broad was
brimming with confidence as he led the England team off the field to a
rapturous reception from a Lord's crowd well and truly packed to the rafters.
All the build up to this Test
series has centred around the apparent belief that England will never be able
to take 20 wickets against a side which possesses one of the best batting line
ups ever to have taken to a cricket field.
Whilst that may well be the case,
England and Broad in particular, have reminded everyone once again that the
hosts' resources are not too shabby either.
It is India who find themselves
firmly on the back foot with two days left of this Test match at Lord's, and
Broad may well be able to finish off the tourists with as much gusto as he
showed on day two come Monday.
Well, if he can remember to
continue bowling that full length, of course.
To mark the 2,000th Test match, each day
Cowers will pose a question to take you back in time - today's is: 'Which Test
match was the most underrated in terms of its drama and tension when we discuss
so-called 'classic matches'?' Post your answers and comments below...
USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "I do believe that
extras are going to count and we have given away 18 from 39 overs. Whereas
India gave away 24 off 132 overs. We lack discipline," (David).
TWEET OF THE DAY: "Graeme Swann seems to
be missing, if you've seen him, please post him to Mr AJ Strauss, Lord's
Cricket Ground, St John's Wood, NW8 8QN" (@spincricket).
STAT OF THE DAY: Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman have notched up no fewer than 453 Tests between them. That's some mighty big numbers.
TALKING POINT OF THE DAY:
the extent of India's apparent influence upon the world game justified, or is
it unhealthy for international cricket?" Post your views below...
SNAP OF THE DAY: 15 years and 153 Tests later, Dravid returned to Lord's to make it to the honours board and help India avoid the follow-on. Dravid, 38 years and 193 days old, deserves every plaudit he gets.
- Stuart Broad