Broad puts his foot in it during horrendous introduction
Tuesday 11 December 2007
As Stuart Broad prepared to bowl for the first time in Test cricket yesterday, the English fans unveiled their new ditty. "He's quick, he's bad, he's better than his dad," they chanted. Within 26 balls of beginning a career that promises much, however, it was clear it would have been more pertinent to bring along a recording of the most famous line in English sporting commentary: "Some people are on the pitch, they think it's all over." In this case, the late, great Kenneth Wolstenholme would have been referring not to elated fans at the 1966 World Cup final, but to the protagonist himself. Broad junior, son of the former England opening batsman, Chris, was caught transgressing on to the pitch's protected area in his follow through.
He was gently reminded by umpire Aleem Dar as early as his second ball, officially warned for the first time after his 15th and for the second time after the second ball of his fifth over. One more strike and it would have been all over: Broad banned from bowling for the rest of the innings. "It is now," the Barmy Army could have added.
It was a horrendous introduction. Hot as Hades, clammy as a pot of glue, England with only four bowlers defending a target that was neither insignificant nor significant. Who said five bowlers were a luxury? Broad, perhaps because he is his father's son, kept cool in the crisis. He bowled with considerable panache and no little invention, always keeping the batsmen honest. He deserved a wicket and would have had one if Alastair Cook had managed to cling on to a stinger at short leg off the meat of Michael Vandort's bat.
"He's got a massive head on his shoulders," said his new ball partner, Ryan Sidebottom. "He bowled fantastically well. Sometimes if I'm bowling at right-handers I tend to get round [off the protected area] a little bit more." Sidebottom is a left-arm bowler and the image he offered would need to be reversed for Broad, a right-arm seamer, who was bowling at left-handers. The angle of attack is different and the bowler's momentum carries him naturally to the batsman.
Dar is a stickler for Law 42.12. He once had Stephen Harmison removed from the attack in Antigua after warning him for the third time. Harmison had bowled 37 overs and Brian Lara was on his way to 400.
The part of the pitch where Broad should not have been is an imaginary rectangle measuring two feet in width and starting five feet from the popping crease. Roughing it up can help bowlers. Broad (like Harmison three-and-a-half years ago) might have been doing the pitch a favour. It is slow and tedious. Indeed, it might have been playing into Sri Lankan hands, giving Muttiah Muralitharan some rough to work with. Murali was scathing about the pitch and about Sri Lankan pitches in general these days.
To avoid further trouble, Broad was switched to the end where Daryl Harper was standing. Given the kind of match Harper is having he might need to call for the third umpire before issuing warning three.
Shot of the day
* Only brave, very skilful or slightly foolish men try to reverse sweep Muttiah Muralitharan but Matt Prior played the shot yesterday. It was not completed in Kevin Pietersen style, where the ball flies over backward point for six, but the shot was executed exquisitely, running away to the third-man boundary for four.
Ball of the day
* Fast bowlers must strike with the new ball in Sri Lanka and Ryan Sidebottom did that twice yesterday. Of his two wickets the second ball was the best. It was full enough to lure Kumar Sangakkara, the world's best batsman, in to pushing forward and it moved away at the last moment, trimming the edge of his bat.
* Matt Prior's 'keeping has received some criticism since his May debut but he produced a stunning catch to dismiss Upul Tharanga. It was a thick edge that flew to him and he dived athletically to his left to take a one-handed catch. In mid-air he closed his other hand round the ball to ensure it did not fall out when he landed.
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