WHEN England last won the Ashes he was a full-blown, Boy's Own, rags-to-riches hero. Some time this week Chris Broad will hear if his batting services are still required by Gloucestershire.
He has been out of the team for a month, out of form for slightly longer than before that and realises he may be out of favour for good. When the England squad for this winter's tour was being mulled over his name would not have rated a single mention, even in broad terms.
It seems a long way to have fallen in eight years but the meteoric rise which saw him become International Player of the Year was perhaps more unexpected. Broad, always fiercely ambitious and sure of his talent, is phlegmatic about his present status.
'I still feel I've got something to offer Gloucestershire cricket,' he said. 'Unfortunately, for all that I shall try to persuade them Gloucestershire might not see it that way.'
Broad is adamant he was merely having a bad trot, struggling for runs in a moderate side and probably not getting the rub of the green too often. The county suspect his decline this season may be linked to an arthritic hip.
''It's got a little bit worse and it won't go away but it doesn't affect the way I bat,' he said. 'It might just slow me down between the wickets but not at the crease.'
But what about swivelling into shots? 'When did you see me swivelling into shots?' And you see his point.
Broad will be 37 later this month and if Gloucestershire sack him it is unlikely that he will be employed elsewhere. But he wants to stay with his native county.
'I love cricket, I love to be involved in cricket. I love playing, I love watching. I like Bristol and the supporters at Bristol even though some of them haven't given me a fair hearing since I came back.'
Broad has always had a knack, as befits one who was among the bravest in facing fast bowlers, of speaking his mind. One of his favourite themes is that the game is played by professionals, run by amateurs. Such an approach has made it necessary for him to live up to his name in the shoulder department.
Of those glory days eight years ago when he scored centuries in three successive Tests against Australia he was quietly reflective. He knows he will never play for England again, though others have been recalled to the colours. 'Having played there in a winning team I suppose I will be reliving the memories a bit this winter,' he said. 'But I won't be wishing I was out there. I have enjoyed my time.'
The hero of the Ashes merely hopes that his time is not up.
AS might have been expected the Cricketer has no intention of removing its famous cover claim to be the world's largest selling cricket magazine.
Doubt was cast on the proud boast by David Frith, editor of the rival Wisden Cricket Monthly, which bears the less specific, perhaps more dubious label, 'the world's No 1.' Frith has discovered a Bombay cricket magazine which sells 50,000 and wanted to know what his rivals were going to do about it.
Nothing, actually. Richard Hutton, editorial director of not quite the world's largest selling cricket magazine, criticised his rival for pedantry. The Cricketer sells slightly above 40,000.
'If people want to get high and mighty about it we could claim to be the world's largest English language cricket magazine and the longest continuously published sports magazine of any type anywhere. The Cricketer is also quite clearly the best product.' So there.
Frith might begin to wish he had never started this. On the other hand, his Australian accent might indicate otherwise.
IMAGINE a batsman getting a bottom edge against a spin bowler. The ball begins to make its way back to the stumps. In his excitement the wicketkeeper rises and inadvertently removes a bail. The ball then knocks off the other bail.
It is highly unlikely but it happened recently in a North Yorkshire and South Durham League match between Barnard Castle and Hartlepool. (I know, I was that wicketkeeper.)
The batsman, who went on to make a century, was adjudged not out by the umpire because the wicket had been broken before the ball struck it. A difficult one, agreed John Jameson, assistant cricket secretary at the MCC, but he thought otherwise and after consultation was clear on the issue.
Law 28.2 states that if one bail is off, it shall be sufficient for the purpose of putting the wicket down to remove the remaining bail. So the batsman should have gone. In such circumstances Jameson tends to go beyond the 42 laws of cricket.
'If nothing seems to apply then invoke Law 43, the law of common sense,' he said. 'If that doesn't work go to Law 44, the one which says, 'I don't like you, you're out.' '
PECULIAR request of the week came, unsurprisingly, from Dickie Bird. Greeted with liquid soap in the changing room before umpiring in the Durham-Lancashire match he asked if he could have a bar, or his hands would not feel right. The staff sent out for a tablet. Dickie was happy. Something to do with the raising of the finger presumably.
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