In rejecting the offer of overnight riches in the Indian Premier League yesterday, Stuart Broad gave the kiss of life to conventional cricket. Broad is 23, blond, unfeasibly good-looking, bats with a flourish, bowls fast and four months ago produced one of the great Ashes spells to clinch the series. In other words, the IPL would die for him.
But he has decided for the second year in succession to postpone his involvement with an alluring mistress and pledged his troth to England. So, too, did his fast-bowling colleague Jimmy Anderson, though his chances of being awarded one of the lucrative contracts on offer in the franchise teams were less certain.
"My No 1 aim in my cricketing career is to play successfully and to play in a winning England team," Broad said. "It was my boyhood dream and I wouldn't want to put that in jeopardy. I do want to play in the IPL at some stage. Obviously, last year the decision paid off with a successful Ashes series and a dream of mine would be to go to Australia and win over there next winter. The last time England won the Ashes in Australia was in 1987 when my father [Chris Broad] was playing, so it would be fantastic to mirror his achievement."
Broad admitted the IPL in 2010 was a temptation and that it had been discussed recently. But he rightly concluded that the crucial extra three weeks' rest it will give him could do a bowler much more good than pocketing perhaps $500,000 (£300,000).
With the Test series against South Africa starting tomorrow it was a timely injection of faith in a form of the game that is in desperate need of it. Both Broad and Anderson put some effort in during England's strenuous middle practice yesterday, the former looking more incisive than he had in the warm-up matches in East London last week and the latter appearing to suffer no discomfort in his strapped right knee.
England have added the Kent off-spinner James Tredwell to their squad as cover for Graeme Swann, who is still suffering lingering effects of a side strain. Swann is expected to play in the first Test but the change is a blow for leg-spinner Adil Rashid, nominally the reserve slow bowler in the party.
South Africa ended days of doubt by reducing their squad to 12. Jacques Kallis will definitely play, if only as a batsman, having made sufficient recovery from his broken rib. But it still leaves South Africa short of bowling.