Sunday, 17 July 2011

Bresnan v Broad

As expected, the 12 man England squad for the first test only has one issue up for debate - whether it's Stuart Broad or Tim Bresnan who gets the chance to take on the Indians.

Broad's had a pretty woeful summer. After picking up two rather untimely injuries over the winter, Broad was rushed back for the first test against Sri Lanka and looked horribly short of match fitness and sharpness. He lacked a bit of pace, and struggled to work batsmen over. As the wickets didn't come, Broad looked increasingly more bereft in confidence, and slowly settled into a repetitive pattern of banging the ball in halfway under the misguided opinion that he was England's "enforcer". This lack of confidence spilled out into the ODI series - historically Broad's strong suit, where he was wicketless until the third game, and hardly set the world alight after that.

Tim Bresnan on the other hand has seen his star rise while Broad's has fallen. After gaining a lot of experience and respect for his One Day performances over the past 18 months, Bresnan came into the team for the fourth Ashes test and was a revelation. He certainly proved he was a test bowler, and only injury to Bresnan stopped this debate happening ahead of the Sri Lanka series. However, he's now back, and after again impressing during the ODI series (and for Yorkshire in the County Championship), Bresnan is certainly the form horse.

Something that counts massively in Stuart Broad's favour is that he is Stuart Broad - England captain. It would be easy to say that the England powers that be made a rod for their own backs by appointing Broad, and as such are unable to drop him, the issue isn't that superficial. Stuart Broad is an England test regular, and has been for the last three and a half years. It's been a long time since an England test regular has been dropped. The last "big names" to be dropped from an England test team were Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison back in New Zealand 2008 - incidentally making space for a young Stuart Broad in the team. Since then, many out of form players have been allowed time to regain their confidence and eventually their form. The names Strauss, Cook, Pietersen, Bell, and even Anderson are testament to England's policy of backing their top players through thick and thin. Having all suffered lean spells, they've all recovered their form and helped England to a lofty position in the world rankings.

At the moment, Stuart Broad is in a hideous run of form. His confidence, often so evident, appears shot to pieces - almost to the extent that he's unable to backchat to umpires for fear of retribution (although we know that's never going to happen). And if England want to pick the best three seamers in the country for the first test against India, it's plainly clear that Tim Bresnan is amongst them, whilst Stuart Broad isn't. However. England have nursed their premier players through poor form before, and it would be an about-turn in policy for a management that believes in backing their players to eventually come good. I'm not saying that I want Stuart Broad in this England team (because I don't), but more that you shouldn't be surprised if come Thursday morning it's Broad bowling to Tendulkar et al, while Tim Bresnan's just mixing him up another Maximuscle.

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