Anything to sell a book?

I could be cynical and say that in his quest to sell his book, Stuart Broad has even been prepared to talk about Kevin Pietersen in a positive light. And that his section in the book about having a harmonious dressing room, should include a what not to do list, including cliques and parody Twitter accounts.

In fairness to Broad, those views would probably be doing him a disservice as he sounded very grown up in the interview I heard.

I have been really pleased to read about, and hear Stuart Broad saying that he will be happy to welcome Kevin Pietersen back into the England dressing room as and when the management decide the time is right.

I have been a bit critical of Broad on here lately, more in respect to the fact that I think he should have been more constructive in breaking up a clique, as opposed to allegedly being a part of it.

But credit where credit is due, and Broad actually sounded very mature and genuine in the interview I heard on Talkpsort, in which he said he would have no problem with Pietersen coming back into the side as and when.

The questions he got asked were more with regard to where we go from here, as opposed to what had previously happened. He was hardly grilled in a Jeremy Paxman style way, there was no ‘what part did you play in all this’ questions, or anything about online Twitter parody accounts, but he didn’t duck anything he was asked (although it could have all been prearranged).

Before the interview started, I actually thought if he was asked any Pietersengate related questions that he would just straight bat them, but in fairness he didn’t. Whether they were pre planned questions or not, he obviously was prepared to talk about the issue (moving forward).

One thing I did pick up on was when Broad said “When KP wants to play for England, he’s a huge asset to our team.” I’m not sure if this was just a general line that didn’t have any real meaning to it, or whether it was a deliberate statement in which he was making it clear that Pietersen (at some point) didn’t want to play for England, and that was were the problem had been.

I’m not sure if I am reading too much into that statement or not.

I assume that we will have to wait until after Pietersen is finished with the Champions league before any meetings with the other players can take place, and I’m again assuming that it will depend on the outcome of those meetings as to whether or not he joins up with the India touring squad.

Ian Bell is due to come home before the 2nd Test for the birth of his child, that might signal the reintegration point if the ECB decide they want to drag things out that little bit more, which wouldn’t surprise me.

Personally, I hope it’s sorted earlier and that Pietersen leaves with the rest of the squad.

India are still heavy odds on to win the series in the cricket betting, I’ve just checked online and their odds are still at a best price of 8/13. England are 5/1 and a drawn series is 7/2.

I imagine that a statement saying Pietersen is joining the England squad could see a price movement with some online bookmakers, but in the overall picture I can’t really see it making much difference. I still expect to see England lose the series.

The Selectors and Stuart Broad

Yet again I’ve been proved totally wrong and the selectors proved totally right. I never actually called for Stuart Broad to be dropped, but I did think that Tim Bresnan deserved to play at Lord’s in his place and I thought Broad was very lucky to be retained in the side after some of his indifferent performances this summer.

Luckily I don’t pick the England team, the selectors, Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower do. They all backed Stuart Broad and yet again ‘Team England’ have been rewarded for showing loyalty and consistency.
Not only has Broad bowled really well, but he has also batted very well – and his runs haven’t been easy runs either, they have all counted and have had a massive influence on the outcome of both test matches to date.
England looked dead and buried at tea on Day 1 in this game, Broad’s 64 just about kept England in the game and as a result of that innings and his 6 wickets England are now in a position to win this test.

That’s 138 runs and 13 wickets from Broad so far in this series, he has also had a couple of easy catches go down off his bowling, so it could have been far better for him. I’m sure Tim Bresnan would have done a decent enough job if he had played at Lord’s, but credit has to go to the England management yet again for getting the big calls right.

If they could only sort out the ODI team (some people are never satisfied).

No more being the "ridiculous enforcer" for Broad

I think it’s safe to say that Andy Flower made his feelings fairly clear in a recent interview with the Guardian about the role of Stuart Broad in the England side.

I believe Flower was sending a direct public message to Broad, a method which is very unlike Flower, when he said he expects him to be more accurate and forget this ridiculous role of being England’s so called enforcer.
But in saying about Broad, “His job is to create pressure and to take wickets and to do that you generally bowl off stump. So his job is not to rough up the opposition,” I do have to ask myself just what plan (if any) has Broad been bowling too lately? Because it certainly isn’t the one mentioned above by Andy Flower.
So has Broad been taking it upon himself to bowl the short stuff? Or has his role in the team become unclear recently and this is Flower’s way of pointing Broad in the direction he wants him going in?
Either way I think it is fair to say that Broad’s role in the side hasn’t been clear to England followers for some time now. Personally I think back to the Oval in 2009 and the spell he bowled against Australia pitching it up and getting seam movement and wish he would go back to bowling that line and length again.
These comments from Andy Flower further underline my belief that Broad will start on Thursday and it will be interesting to see what line and in what manner Broad bowls.

Stuart Broad V Tim Bresnan

Who will get the final bowling spot for Thursday’s 1st test against India? Personally, I think the selectors will stick with Stuart Broad.
Broad has been struggling for some time now, he looks like he came back into the England side too quickly after injury, he needed more games in county cricket first. He has looked short of match sharpness and test cricket against the No.1 side in the world is surely no place to try and bowl yourself back into form.
I’m not for a minute jumping on Broad’s back here and claiming he’s rubbish and should be dropped, just purely that he is out of sorts at the moment and this series is not one for taking risks in. He could well play and perform, that wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest as he is a class bowler.
It could also be a risk of sorts picking Bresnan, as compared to Broad, he is relatively inexperienced at this level. But Bresnan played a big part in the Ashes win last winter, arguably a bigger part than Broad.
It also wouldn’t hurt England too rotate the bowlers a bit more. This is probably going to be a batsman dominated series, so Bresnan’s stamina and ability to bowl long stints could help England. Such is Bresnan’s work rate, he almost does the work of two men and goes some way to filling the void of the 5th bowler that England currently don’t have.
There is nothing wrong with going for a bit of ‘horses for courses’ from time to time. If the pitch looks flat, pick Bresnan for his stamina. If it looks like it carries bounce, then pick Broad (but with a whisper in his ear not to get carried away).
As I already said, I believe the selectors will stick with Broad. They have done this with the batsmen with remarkable success with Alastair Cook, and I expect them to take the same view with the bowlers.
And a mention for the unlucky Steven Finn as well. When it comes to England selection he must feel he has upset someone somewhere as hasn’t really done anything wrong and keeps on getting left out.
He is a good young bowler who’s time will come again. He’s had a taste of test cricket and I’m sure he is well aware that there is one or two things he needs to work on with his bowling and county cricket will give him the chance to do so. He will come again for England and he will be better for the experience when that time does come.

Rose Bowl Honours for Tremlett

It was a sort of poetic justice for Chris Tremlett and Hampshire that the big man is the first to get his name on the Rose Bowl honours board and I’m sure that all the fans that gave him the rousing reception on Thursday will also approve.

This test match has further underlined just what an important part of this England side Tremlett has now become. Hopefully now Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower will see sense and finally install him as the new ball partner for James Anderson, as he certainly deserves that status.

It’s remarkable to think that he was only taken to the Ashes as cover – and if the reports were true, it was a bit touch and go if he was to even make that squad.

Tremlett now looks like he’s almost the finished article. He seems to know where his game is going now and ‘touch wood,’ all his injury problems are also well behind him.

On the flip side, Stuart Broad look like what he is. A man short of match practise who is still finding his way after injuries, that’s not a criticism, just an observation.

I’m not suggesting England drop him, but it must be harder to find your form and fitness playing for England, rather than Nottinghamshire. As he is the T20 captain and part of the 50 over side, I can’t see him playing county cricket for Notts anytime soon either, something I believe he would benefit from.

At the moment Broad must be classed as England’s third seamer, although I’m not convinced the selectors rank him that low. A marker of how strong England are in this position is that when Tim Bresnan is fit again, he probably won’t get a look in – not even after his Ashes’ performances.

Having said all that, there is plenty of room for improvement in England’s bowling. Lord’s wasn’t great and they’ve had their moments here as well. I’m not convinced that they have all got back into their top rhythm yet, hopefully by the time India arrive they will be firing on all cylinders again.

Test Cricket is Alive and Well

Friday was yet another enthralling day of test cricket. In the new crash, bang, wallop era it was the sort of day that proves that the test format is still the pinnacle of cricket.

In the morning the headlines belonged to Mohammad Amir for his remarkable one man show bowling performance, and to Kevin Pietersen for his now, more than troublesome batting frailties.

Then after lunch Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad took over with magnificent centuries. Trott showed the sort of discipline and attitude that England’s batsmen consistently lack, and as the partnership developed you could see these attributes rubbing off on Broad.

Any doubts over Trott’s place in the side when Bell returns are now dead and buried. He always seemed the odd man out to me, I always had the impression he had to do more than the likes of Bell, Morgan and Collingwood to keep his place. His place is now in no doubt, Jonathan Agnew described it as by far his best innings, even better than his debut century at the Oval last year to help England win the Ashes. Thats some accolade.

Stuart Broad seemed to be going down the well trodden route of prospective all-rounder, to just being a bowler who could throw the bat a bit. One century dosen’t make him a number 6, but it does show that there is still plenty to work with.

This wasn’t a fluke innings, it wasn’t one of those times when a tailender just throws the bat with no pressure and it comes off, it was a proper innings. When Broad came out to bat the whole series had just about been thrown away by England. Broad responded with remarkable fighting spirit. And lets remember he hasn’t just smacked some average bowling attack around, this isn’t Bangladesh, this Pakistani attack can stand alongside any in world cricket.

While England’s batting frailties were there to be seen again yesterday, the positives to take from this (and there are some positives this time, Michael Vaughan) are that England fought back from the brink of defeat in a manner we aren’t used to seeing from them. Both these centuries counted, the whole summers work was just about to be undone before Trott and Broad intervened, they were proper test match, high pressure innings.

In a match that has already swung one way and then the other, it will be interesting to see if Pakistan can fight back again. If not for their own pride, the Pakistan players owe it to Mohammad Amir to make a match of this. This young man deserves as much credit as Trott and Broad have received, any other day and he would have been the headline maker.

His efforts shouldn’t be overshadowed. He looked a decent prospect in Australia last winter, he has now shown during this English summer that he is already the real deal. Yesterdays showing was the culmination of an impressive summers all-round cricket from the youngster, and he has now already got his name on the Lord’s Honours Board, and probably not for the last time either.

Ashes Top Wicket Takers – 2009 Series

Ashes Top Wicket Takers

Ben Hilfenhaus capped an excellent series in which he was the only Aussie bowler to be consistant throughout the 5 tests by being the Ashes top wicket taker with 22 English victims. Hilfenhaus always looked dangerous with his outswinger and seemed to adapt best to bowling in English conditions. After a sticky first 3 tests Stuart Broad emerged as the top English bowler after there were calls for him to be dropped at Headingley and The Oval.

22 – Ben Hilfenhaus, AUS
20 – Peter Siddle, AUS
20 – Mitchell Johnson, AUS
18 – Stuart Broad, ENG
14 – Graham Swann, ENG
12 – James Anderson, ENG
10 – Graham Onions, ENG
10 – Nathan Hauritz, AUS

8 – Andrew Flintoff, ENG
5 – Steve Harmison, ENG
4 – Stuart Clark, AUS
4 – Marcus North, AUS
1 – Michael Clarke, AUS
1 – Paul Collingwood, ENG
1 – Monty Panesar, ENG