It's painful to see Stuart Broad struggle. I know there are plenty of you out there who are taking pleasure at seeing Broad fail, and there are some quite obvious reasons for that. But I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Broady, which makes his struggle all the more disappointing.
Quite simply, Broad is not ready to play in this game. He's had an injury plagued winter, with injuries sending him home from both the Ashes and the World Cup. And while his stomach may well have healed, he's just not match fit enough to play in this game. Remember Doug Bollinger at Adelaide? The word used there was undercooked, and while Broad has played a couple of County games, he plainly isn't fit enough to bowl at a consistent top-lick. And the more effort he's putting in to try and get there, the more often he's losing his line and length. And the more frustrated he's getting, which is leading to his over-appealing, non-appealing, and general petulance. He may have taken his 100th test wicket, but it certainly hasn't been a day to remember for him.
But the question shouldn't be whether Broad should be playing in this game or not. It should actually be whether he should be an automatic pick in the first place. As said earlier, he's taken 100 test wickets, but he's taken them at a distinctly poor 35 runs per wicket. He can often spend days like today staring daggers at umpires, fielders and batsmen alike and not even look like taking wickets. When he's good, he can be very good, but he's increasingly playing second fiddle to the other fast bowlers. Conditions may not suit his height and bounce every time, but he should learn from the way Tremlett has bowled over the first two days. Tremlett has used the threat of the short ball to surprise batsmen with fuller stuff; keeping the batsmen guessing and not knowing whether to come back or forward. It appears at times all too easy to play Broad, and for a supposed veteran of 36 tests and 100 wickets, he should be able to adapt more adeptly to conditions.
Strauss has used the Kevin Pietersen debate to confirm that nobody is an automatic pick, and everybody's position is under review. While I'm not advocating a knee-jerk reaction after a very successful couple of years of test cricket for England of which Broad has played a big part, I certainly think that Broad may need a wake-up call if he's too go on and take another 100 test wickets. England's recent selections have seen one swinger and two bang-it-inners, but if that policy changes it appears at the moment that Tremlett is looking the bowler who is most justifying his position.
Injuries have not helped Broad, and he certainly shouldn't have played this game. The question still remains though - should he be playing in any case?