NASSER HUSSAIN: England made a mistake by leaving out Stuart Broad against West Indies and he had every right to be hacked off and air his grievances during the first Test
- The conditions have cried out for Jimmy Anderson and Broad to do their thing
- But England picked Wood and Archer as they could not decide who to leave out
- After 138 Tests for his country, Broad had every right to voice his frustration
- If I’d been captain, I’d have enjoyed the fact that the decision annoyed him
What we saw in that interview with Stuart Broad was a fast bowler with fire in his belly, a bloke who was so hacked off about being dropped that he decided to air his views mid-game on national TV.
As a broadcaster, I’ll take that any day of the week over boring platitudes. As a captain, I might have preferred if he’d waited until after the game. But we can’t have it both ways. We can’t criticise sportsmen for speaking from the heart when we so often grumble about how they hide behind cliches.
I’m not sure Ben Stokes will necessarily see it like that in his first Test as captain, and you do wonder if Broad’s comments got back to Mark Wood and Jofra Archer. If they did, those two might just have felt a bit of extra pressure when England resumed bowling on the third day.
Stuart Broad has spoken of his anger and frustration at being dropped by England this week
But, frankly, I agreed with every word Broad said, and his right to say it, which he has built up over 138 Tests for his country. And, if I’d been captain, I’d have enjoyed the fact that the decision annoyed him. I’d have liked how he sought out the national selector Ed Smith and asked for an explanation.
I used to look at a player’s reaction when he had been dropped. If you see a bit of grumpiness, you know he cares. And, like with Jimmy Anderson, you can’t separate the grumpiness from the bowler: it’s what has helped make Broad the competitor he is. Take away his edge, and he’s a different beast.
I do feel England have made a mistake by leaving him out. It’s as if they’ve chosen a side for a flat pitch overseas with the Kookaburra – not an English surface under grey skies with the Dukes. The conditions have cried out for Anderson and Broad to do their thing. If this was Brisbane, and you wanted to break up the two old warhorses, then I’d just about understand the logic. But we’re talking about Southampton.
Broad’s haul of 485 Test wickets was overlooked in favour of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood
Instead, England clearly struggled to decide which of their two quickest bowlers to leave out, and ended up simply picking both.
I can see why Broad is fuming. At the start of 2019, England left him out of the first Test in Barbados, on a surface that cried out for a tall, hit-the-deck bowler, and replaced him with the skiddy medium-pace of Sam Curran. He might just about have forgiven them for that – and now this happens.
Since then, he has gone away and reinvented himself. He has pitched the ball fuller, and had superb series against both Australia and South Africa. He did what was asked of him, and looked world-class. And what kind of bowler have England missed in this game? Someone capable of pitching the ball up, like Jason Holder did on Thursday.
Broad was dropped even though conditions that would have suited him down to the ground
I understand that no one deserved to be left out, as Broad said himself. Archer has three five-fors in seven Tests, and Wood took nine wickets last time out in Johannesburg. Anderson is Anderson, and Dom Bess picked up five wickets in Port Elizabeth. Then there’s Chris Woakes, who has an excellent record in England, and didn’t get a look-in here.
But Broad hasn’t been rotated at the Ageas Bowl. He’s been dropped in conditions that would have suited him down to the ground. Don’t forget that he is an all-time great bowler for England. It’s only because of Anderson’s magnificence that Broad ever gets overlooked in that debate.
England really missed him on Thursday evening, when there was cloud cover and the lights were on, and they desperately needed more than the one West Indian wicket they ended up taking. I felt both Wood and Archer weren’t full enough – and it allowed the tourists to reach the close knowing they had laid the platform to take a first-innings lead when the sun was out and batting was easier.
Captaining according to the weather forecast can be a perilous business in this country, but Holder admitted he wanted to bowl first, and England have ended up leaving themselves with the worst of the conditions. Then came Broad’s searing honesty. It’s safe to say it’s been an uncomfortable few days.
England picked Mark Wood and Jofra Archer as they could not decide who to leave out
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