England v New Zealand: Hard work on beating left-handers should keep paying dividends

 

Lord's

A day that began with victory a possibility for both sides ended up being as short as it was Broad's.

The England captain, Alastair Cook, admitted after the match: "We would have liked a few more, we were trying get 250 to 260 as a lead." But when Stuart Broad found himself at the crease before the first over of the day had been completed, England's lead was just 208 runs and Cook's target looked as distant as the speck of blue sky away to the east.

Cook said: "That hour Jimmy [Anderson] and Broady bowled there was as good as any bowling I've seen in an opening spell. Obviously [Broad]'s done it on numerous occasions now. Anyone who bowls at high-80s [miles per hour], from six foot five or six, and bangs a good length – and it's swinging – it's going to be very hard.

"I don't think I've experienced a game that ebbed and flowed quite as much as that," added Cook. He could just as easily have been discussing the fortunes of Broad. When he replaced the nightwatchman, Steven Finn, at the crease yesterday morning, his return from this Test was meagre: a solitary, though crucial, first-innings wicket and a three-ball duck.

Just three and a half hours later, he was leading a victorious England off the field with career-best Test figures of seven for 44. It was all sparked by Broad's rearguard action with the bat, something that has been conspicuous by its absence over the last 18 months. Or, as Broad put it: "Once I got to 20, I got a bit of a nosebleed."

His first job was to avoid a pair. He managed that task as he troubled the scorers with a single from his first ball. With that monkey off his back, he set about wrenching control of the game for England. Between the tumble of the last four home wickets Broad, with drives both exquisite and agricultural, found time to score an unbeaten 26 from 25 balls.

"I knew the best way I could help the team was to play quite positively," said Broad. "I know as a bowler, if it is doing a little bit and someone actually plays their shots it can be quite frustrating so I wanted to try and set that intent. I think that gave me a bit of confidence with the ball."

That confidence became manifest with just the third ball of his spell when Broad had the New Zealand opener Peter Fulton caught behind. When he trapped their captain, Brendon McCullum, lbw 31 balls later, not only was he on the bowlers' honours board for the second time at Lord's, he could also lay claim to equalling the English record for fewest deliveries taken from the start of a spell for a 'five-fer'. It is a record he shares with Bernard Bosanquet, who also managed the feat in 32 balls, against the Australians in 1904.

There is no footage available of Bosanquet spinning Australia into chaos but there is no doubt that the footage of Broad's dismissal of the dangerman southpaw Hamish Rutherford will be oft-repeated this summer. It was Rutherford's wicket that gave Broad most satisfaction.

"It's something I've worked on actually, in New Zealand and since coming back, trying to run it across the left-handers," said Broad. "To Hamish, you can't give him any width. I think that's obvious from the 170 he got in Dunedin, he just thrives on that.

"So I wanted to try and pitch it on the stumps and run it across him. It was nice to see the off stump going and nice to see that the hard work on that particular ball has paid off for one delivery, and hopefully it will for a lot more this summer."

After a disappointing winter, Broad's hope for more will spring eternal for England fans. But, for now, he should bask in a short day's work well done.

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