Broad shows promise to answer captain's call with innings of maturity
Monday 19 May 2008
The pressure could not have been greater – it was his fourth Test, his home debut for England at Lord's and he was coming out to bat with the opposition bowler on a hat-trick.
But was Stuart Broad intimidated? Did he back down? Did he hell. He fronted up and somehow saw off Daniel Vettori's hat-trick ball, but was then soon batting like a veteran of 40, not four, Tests.
England had only just crept past the 200 mark and they were still far enough behind New Zealand to leave the Kiwis with a more than useful lead if the lower order failed to hang around.
The talk about Broad to date has focused on his fast medium bowling, but in Napier, back in March, New Zealand were the first side to be hit by the realisation that this gangling youngster has the makings of a genuine all-rounder.
In that third Test Broad, still only 21, helped Kevin Pietersen put on 61 to drag England out of trouble in the first innings, the Nottinghamshire player contributing 42. Second time around he scored 31 not out. The fact that yesterday he was out for 25 is immaterial. Runs were not as important as minutes. Time spent at the crease was required. And that's what Broad gave England.
Vettori praised him, saying: "He has a good, solid technique. When he comes out he looks like a batsman, he knows where his off-stump is. He is someone with presence at the crease. He and Vaughan batted really well together."
Vaughan said: "That is the first chance I have had to bat with him. You can get a feel for how a batsman is out in the middle. He was very composed."
As Broad got into his stride, his confidence grew. He helped see off the second new ball and after tea he unleashed three wonderful shots. The first was a cover drive off the dangerous Chris Martin; the other two were classier still, drives down the ground off the very talented Tim Southee. It was heady stuff.
By the time he was out he had been at the crease for almost an hour and a half, shared in a seventh-wicket stand of 61 with his captain and helped take England within eight runs of the Kiwi total. He had also done enough to suggest he will prove a long-term solution to England's problem No 8 position.
If only Pietersen had enjoyed such a day. He is a wanted man. The Indian Premier League is trying to seduce him with multi-million pound offers over three years to put bums on seats in their Twenty20 tournament from next year.
Yesterday England wanted KP to give their innings a bit of a hurry-up to give them enough time to conjure up a win. Sadly, all England got were three runs from Pietersen. Still his nine-ball innings left him with time to contemplate the Allen Stanford millions, which, by all accounts, England want divvied up in a fair way when they take part in the winner-takes-all, one-off, $20m (£10.2m) dollar exhibition match in Antigua on 1 November.
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