When Andy Flower offers a vote of confidence it can be taken at its word. There is, therefore, no need for Stuart Broad to ring his agent asking him to seek other opportunities during England's forthcoming series against India.
In any other sphere, from any other bloke, Flower's ringing endorsement of Broad after dropping him for the decisive match in the one-day series against Sri Lanka on Saturday might be taken as a warning of impending temporary unemployment.
"Broad's been a superb performer for us, a great competitor – and I foresee him doing great things for us in the future, both in this upcoming Test series and the one-day series," said Flower. "He was left out of the side because we wanted to bring a spinner in, and we thought that Jade Dernbach would be more effective in these conditions."
Flower and the selectors clearly have it in mind to select Broad for the first Test match against India which starts at Lord's on Thursday next week. But the fact that they were prepared to omit him from the side at Old Trafford on Saturday – when England won a close, thoroughly engaging match to take the series 3-2 – has removed some of the sheen from his tag as England's golden boy.
His presence in Nottinghamshire's side for a Championship match against Somerset beginning today does not make it a Test trial, but if Broad were to produce a disappointing display the selectors may be persuaded to reconsider.
England will at least begin the Test series against India with the four-man attack that has, astonishingly, served them so well recently.
When fit, Broad has been an automatic selection, but other bowlers have advanced. Chris Tremlett, who replaced him when he withdrew from the Ashes last winter, is now one of the two leading fast bowlers. Indeed, a significant part of the reason for Tremlett's absence from the one-day series against Sri Lanka was to ensure he was thoroughly rested for the India challenge.
Tim Bresnan, himself now recovered from the torn calf muscles which ruined his early season, will be in the reckoning for a place as the third, impressively accurate, seamer with control of swing. Steve Finn has a tendency to take wickets which Broad has, for the moment at least, mislaid.
Flower may want to pick Broad and that is the intention, but there are only three places for fast bowlers, two of which will be taken by Tremlett and Jimmy Anderson. Sooner or later Broad, who is now nursing a sore heel, has to increase the number of wickets he is taking.
Flower said: "A nice by-product of him missing this game is that he will have a four-day break from bowling the fourth one-day international that he played and the four-day game that he will play for Nottinghamshire, starting on Monday.
"After that, he can have another four-day break to rest those niggles and then get into training for the Test match at Lord's. I think Tremlett's going to be a very important made in the Test series against India and it's nice that he should be fresh."
The bowler who earned the late plaudits at Old Trafford on Saturday evening was Dernbach, who lacks nothing in temperament for the big occasion. Mixing a variety of slower balls and possessing the conviction to keep bowling them, he finished off Sri Lanka's dogged pursuit of the 269 they needed to win match and series by taking two wickets in two balls.
He removed the composed and threatening Angelo Mathews with another of his slower balls as the batsman miscued a pull, and then dispatched Lasith Malinga with something fuller, faster and straighter. Dernbach is but one of a host of fast bowlers to whom England may turn, certainly in one-day cricket, as they at last put in place their long-heralded rotation policy.
Flower said: "Jade Dernbach has got his chance in this series, but we also had Steven Finn and Chris Woakes in the squad. I think they've both got a future. There is a lot of competition for fast-bowling places. We'll see how they develop over the next couple of months."
Such is the nature of the modern game that England will not have long to dwell on their victory against Sri Lanka, which keeps them at No 5 in the world one-day rankings. But it was ultimately a merited, if close, win and a personal triumph for Alastair Cook who scored 298 runs in the series from 308 balls.
He was also impressive when the going got tough in Manchester. True, England had chances to dispatch Sri Lanka after their dominant starts to both innings. First, they raced to 85-0 in the 13th over and then reduced their opponents to 29-3 in the ninth. But Sri Lanka were World Cup finalists for a reason and kept hanging on.
England eventually reached 268 for 9 with well-crafted half centuries for Jonathan Trott and Eoin Morgan and kept the tourists at bay, just, as Cook juggled his five bowlers. Graeme Swann has now become the No 1 ranked one-day bowler in the world but Dernbach, Bresnan, Anderson and the recalled left-arm spin of Samit Patel all responded assuredly in demanding circumstances. Cook kept calm, England won by 16 runs.
"He had some tricky decisions to take throughout the series, and he was under pressure from a number of quarters," added Flower. "I thought he handled that pressure really well, and made some really good decisions out there today. He had to be very flexible, and he was.
"We saw him handle pressure well out in Bangladesh too, which isn't an easy tour. He grew there as a leader, and without doubt this series will have helped him grow too."
England have won a series and found a captain, which does not happen every day. India arrive on Thursday.
Old Trafford scoreboard
Fifth One-day international: England beat Sri Lanka by 16 runs
England won toss
Runs 6s 4s Bls Min
†C Kieswetter b Prasad 43 1 5 44 59
*A N Cook st Sangakkara b Randiv 31 0 3 35 55
I J L Trott b Randiv 72 0 3 87 116
K P Pietersen c Sangakkara b Prasad 5 0 0 7 7
E J G Morgan st Sangakkara b Dilshan 56 0 2 60 82
I R Bell c Kulasekara b Randiv 4 0 0 8 6
S R Patel c Mathews b Randiv 8 0 0 14 16
T T Bresnan c Sangakkara b Randiv 6 0 0 15 11
G P Swann run out 5 0 0 9 14
J M Anderson not out 12 0 0 17 19
J W Dernbach not out 3 0 0 4 4
Extras (b1 lb7 w15) 23
Total (for 9, 50 overs) 268
Fall: 1-85, 2-87, 3-95, 4-213, 5-222, 6-233, 7-243, 8-243, 9-253.
Bowling: T M Dilshan 9-0-44-1, K M D N Kulasekara 8-0-51-0, S L Malinga 10-0-60-0, K T G D Prasad 6-0-26-2, S Randiv 10-0-42-5, B M A J Mendis 7-0-37-0.
Runs 6s 4s Bls Min
F D M Karunaratne c Trott b Bresnan 4 0 1 7 5
*T M Dilshan c Dernbach b Bresnan 4 0 0 6 13
†K C Sangakkara b Bresnan 48 0 3 75 107
D P M D Jayawardene c Cook b Anderson 9 0 0 15 19
L D Chandimal st Kieswetter b Swann 54 2 5 64 61
A D Mathews c Bresnan b Dernbach 62 0 6 64 99
B M A J Mendis c Pietersen b Patel 48 0 4 53 68
K M D N Kulasekara c Morgan b Anderson 4 0 0 4 6
S Randiv run out 0 0 0 0 0
S L Malinga b Dernbach 6 1 0 2 4
K T G D Prasad not out 0 0 0 0 0
Extras (lb9 w4) 13
Total (48.2 overs) 252
Fall: 1-7, 2-12, 3-29, 4-123, 5-131, 6-233, 7-245, 8-246, 9-252.
Bowling: J M Anderson 10-0-55-2, T T Bresnan 9-0-49-3, J W Dernbach 9.2-0-49-2, S R Patel 10-0-49-1, G P Swann 10-2-41-1
Umpires: B F Bowden and N J Llong.
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