Broad running out of time to prove that he can be a true strike bowler

Five wickets in one golden spell of bowling at the Oval and Stuart Broad's future was assured. The Ashes were coming home, headlines could be written and English cricket had a new superstar. Somehow, though, the story has refused to develop as quickly – or as spectacularly – as most people thought it would.

Broad's brilliant contribution to the 2009 beating of Australia could not have been better timed. For a start, it had a huge bearing on the outcome of that summer's deciding Test. And it softened the blow that most felt in knowing Andrew Flintoff had reached the end of the road as an international cricketer.

But, nearly two years on, we are still waiting for Broad to become the unstoppable force promised by his five-star performance of August 2009. Not only waiting, but wondering – after watching him bowl in the first three Sri Lankan innings of this series – whether he should be an absolute shoo-in for Thursday week's third Test at the Rose Bowl.

Still not quite 25, Broad has already played 36 Tests. His record includes three hauls of five wickets or more and a stupendous innings of 169 against Pakistan at Lord's last August which was cruelly relegated to the "also happened" list by the spot-fixing allegations levelled at three members of the touring team.

Broad's averages (28 batting and 36 bowling) can do with some improving. But it is the figure in the wickets column – 104 – which raises eyebrows and leaves critics wondering whether three victims per match is quite what England are looking for from a strike bowler.

It is worth noting that Flintoff had only 73 wickets at the same stage of his career. But he was in denial about his bowling for a long time, believing himself to be a batsman first until the 2005 Ashes series convinced even "Super Fred" that his right-arm thunderbolts and limitless stamina were of huge importance to England.

Broad, though, is a bowler whose correct batting place is No 8 (at least for the moment). And, taking the 36-Test mark as a point of comparison, he is a fair way behind the wicket tallies of pacemen like James Anderson (119), Matthew Hoggard (129) and Steve Harmison (142).

England make the point that figures do not always tell the whole truth; that Broad, through his aggression, often gets wickets for the man at the other end. A bit like Flintoff used to, in fact. But unless the Notts man rips through Sri Lanka's second innings today then captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower could have an interesting choice to make next week.

Anderson expects to have fully recovered from his side strain in time to play in the third Test. Chris Tremlett looks set for a decent run in the team. And that leaves Steve Finn as the favourite to miss out – especially after blowing cold more often than hot over the past few days.

The great bonus with Finn, however, is that he takes wickets. He has 50 already, in 12 Tests – having picked up three more yesterday (to Broad's one) while Sri Lanka's hopes of establishing a first-innings lead were swept away.

Curiously, the last time Broad found his bowling under the microscope was just before the final match of the 2009 Ashes. Indeed, more than a few people would have left him out of the Oval line-up – what a mistake that might have been.

It will be a surprise, then, if Broad does not figure at the Rose Bowl next week. But things could be different come the second half of the summer when India are the visitors and, all being well, Tim Bresnan is firing again after completing his recovery from a torn calf muscle.

Bresnan took six wickets in the last two Ashes Tests of the winter, while Broad was absent injured, and is a genuine rival for that No 8 spot.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam