England in India 2012-13 November 27, 2012

Broad's Test place in the balance


David Saker, the England bowling coach, has admitted Stuart Broad's performance in Mumbai "wasn't up to scratch" and provided the biggest hint yet that he will struggle to keep his place in the team for the third Test in Kolkata.

Broad has yet to take a wicket in the Test series against India and, since the start of June, has taken 11 Test wickets, eight of those at Headingley against South Africa, at 54.00.

With Steven Finn returning from injury to take 4 for 50 in the England Performance Programme match in Mumbai and England now committed to playing two spinners in the rest of the series, it is hard to see how Broad can be accommodated.

Saker accepted that conditions in India were tough for seam bowlers like Broad, but urged him to "front up" and learn from the example of fast bowlers who have achieved success on such wickets.

"He's finding it tough, no doubt," Saker said. "I don't think he's the first fast bowler to come over here and find it tough. It's another great learning curve for him. Bowling fast over here isn't easy and you have to find a way to survive. The really great bowlers always have. You don't just say the fast bowlers are going to have no influence - a defeatist attitude like that is not accepted. We've got to have a look at the way bowlers have done it over here and try your best at replicating that.

"He's learning it the hard way at the moment and it's probably not going the way he'd like it to go. His confidence is probably not as high as he'd like but this place can really dent your confidence quickly. As a fast bowler you want to see a few balls zinging through to the keeper and it's hard to do that here. He's finding that difficult but it's something he will learn from and hopefully become a better bowler for it.

On Tuesday, Broad tweeted that he had lost 5kgs over the last week after reports during the Test that he was suffering from illness, but Saker did not want to look for excuses.

"I think he had a little bit of an illness but once you cross the line you're a hundred percent. His performance wasn't up to scratch but that happens over here," he said. "It's a tough place to bowl fast. He's had a little bit of a break, he needs to front up and find out what's the best way to go about it over here.

Broad certainly appears to have fallen behind Finn and James Anderson in the pecking order. Although Anderson has only claimed two wickets in the series to date, Saker was hugely impressed by his performance in Mumbai and conceded that, if Finn came through the EPP game, he would prove hard to ignore.

"He's finding it really difficult to get his head around changing the way he bowls. You can bowl fourth stump nearly everywhere in the world but if you go wide of the stumps here you get hurt."
David Saker on Stuart Broad's struggles

"Jimmy was outstanding here," Saker said. "It was as good as I've ever seen him bowl and he could have had a few more wickets if things had gone his way.

"Finn has been monitored the last few days and if he gets through this game with the Lions squad there's a good chance he might play in Kolkata, without a doubt. He's a special talent and has the pace we probably need for this place. We'd like to get him in the team.

"If he can get through that game there's no doubt he'll come into the selection picture. We thought he was on target for the Mumbai Test. I was very optimistic he could play, and that backfired so we don't want to get ahead of ourselves this time. We want to see him bowl 20 overs and take some wickets.

"It would have been an interesting selection call if he'd been fit here. We obviously made the right call with the two spinners so one of the fast bowlers may have had to miss out and both Stuart and Jimmy have played well up to now. We would have had to make a call on that and we'll have to make a call for this one, for sure, if Finn is fit."

Saker rejected the idea that Broad had lost pace over the last few months, suggesting that the issue was more a failure to react to the conditions in India and a subsequent loss of confidence.

"I don't think it's a matter of pace," Saker said. "He came back from injury at the World Twenty20 and bowled at good pace and I thought in the warm-up games and in the first Test he bowled at a good pace.

"I just think he's lacking a bit of confidence and finding it really difficult to get his head around maybe changing the way he bowls. Here you have to change it a bit. You can bowl fourth stump nearly everywhere else in the world but if you go wide of the stumps here you get hurt. We did discuss that before this trip, how bowling straight is crucial, and we watched as lot of footage of the teams who have come here and done well, Australia, South Africa and even the West Indies who came out here not long ago, bowled straight and had some success.

"He probably just hasn't played that well in these two Tests. Maybe he's looking for something that just isn't there as well. He's asking a lot of questions that probably don't need to be asked."

Saker also hinted that recent weeks have provided him with his biggest challenge while working with England. "I've been blessed in that I haven't had to do a lot of hard yards up to now as a bowling coach but now, with Tim Bresnan and Stuart of late, we've had to have some good talks and maybe some tinkering with actions. At the end of the day we still have to keep the game as simple as we can."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • George on November 30, 2012, 2:07 GMT

    JG2704 You can consider dropping a guy because there is a better alternative available. It does not matter one iota how well swan may be playing, the simple fact of the matter is he is not the best spinner england have available. Swan may well have strung together a couple of decent innings, but he was comprehensively out performed by englands "second" spinner in the last match, and indeed has been out performed by englands "second" spinner in 6 out of the 7 matches this year in which they have both played. The improvement in team harmony that his omission will undoubtedly bring can be no bad thing either.

  • Phil on November 29, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    @JG2704... I agree put Swann up the order - he can bat at 8 in Indian conditions. Perhaps it would add to his batting responsibilty. I always feel he doesn't think he has to do well with the bat - when in fact when it's not swinging I reckon he's OK.

  • John on November 29, 2012, 9:58 GMT

    @ MartinC on (November 28 2012, 04:50 AM GMT) But what did the tail with so called all rounders Bres and Broad do in the first match? I'd rather have 4 bowlers who are most likely to penetrate the Indian side even if they don't score a run between them. I might also be in the minority of 1 here but I rate Swann as better with the bat than Broad and Bres and reckon if he batted at 8 (where he would have more chance of batting with proper batsmen etc) I think he'd do a job

  • John on November 29, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    @zenboomerang on (November 29 2012, 03:45 AM GMT) Fair points but also Eng may have had Broad above Swann as one of their top 2 bowlers. In the rankings Broad was above Swann last time I looked. Not saying that means anything but maybe that's how Eng see it. Also Swann is getting on a bit so maybe Eng wanted a younger vice captain to come through with Cook. Still think it was not the best decision and it's harder to find resons why Prior shouldn't be vc than should be vc

  • Roo on November 29, 2012, 3:45 GMT

    @JG2704... My comment on Broad not being in the 2 top bowlers was meant as Jimmy & Graeme being the top 2 (& possible VC candidates)... For me, Prior is a no-brainer as the VC - I think most see that Matt is a central player in the team, vg wicketkeeper & batsman, reads the game well & is the first to step in when team mates need support on & off the field... There must be some underlying reason Broad is VC - more responsibility? game focus? team building? - but I just don't get it... For me I want someone that gives the most to the team & is universally respected by team mates & the public... Bit slow repying, getting over the "drive lag" getting back home from Adelaide...

  • Rob on November 28, 2012, 21:21 GMT

    I would largely agree with Village on selection here, Patel did seem unfortunate with decisions in the first test and looked ok in the last test. If the next wicket is less responsive to Monty, Swann then his tight bowling (as in 1st test) is very useful and also use KP. If fit Finn is a must for Broad, he has been a weak link for a while now and maybe being dropped would be the shot in the arm he requires, regardless Finn is a better option as a wicket taker, lets not forget he was the leading wicket taker in the last Ashes before being dropped for being a tad expensive. I like Compton from what I've seen and think Jonny is a long term star and keep him in as the experience is invaluable. All in all I am optimistic rather than expectant for the series, I think we might nick it but lose the ODI's and be inundated with posts fronm the sub-continent saying that and IPL is the true measure of cricket Yaaawn. ps. So much for the ill fitting title of 'Revenge Series', so anti-cricket.

  • Samuel on November 28, 2012, 20:15 GMT

    @o-bomb - couldn't agree more. Arguably should never have been picked for Tests in the first place as there were better options at the time, but I've harped on about that enough on the county blogs this season! He was told after his horror show in the UAE to go away & score first class runs - well, he only played 5 games for Middlesex & averaged 18. Granted it was a difficult season for run-scoring, but that's a fairly abysmal effort. I get the feeling he was given a Central Contract as England panicked in the wake of KP's enforced retirement, feeling the need for an expansive player in the middle order. Basically, in the KP fracas hadn't happened, he wouldn't have one. Definitely one of most valuable, if not our most valuable, limited overs batsman, but keep him out of Tests until he proves himself in the Championship.

  • John on November 28, 2012, 18:44 GMT

    Wondering if they've taken any notice of Root's inns - albeit vs a mediocre side. As someone else said , he can bowl a bit of offspin too - Patel has not looked great bowling so can he be any worse. Also batting is better practice than changing nappies

  • Justin on November 28, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    While I've been calling this guy out as useless his whole career...I was saying so knowing that england would never drop him and that the Aussies would enjoy being able to spank around at least one bowler at will, like they have done the last 2 ashes against broad (save one spell in a cloud heavy swinging seaming afternoon at the oval any man could make the ball talk). God help us in the next ashes if they finally paper over this loop hole. His career should end here really. South Africa spanked him all over the park (until the series was decided), Australia spanked him all over the park at home and away (his injury in oz single handedly won england the ashes). His one ton came in a series that was marred with cheating...and his one decent series against India england were blessed with the better bowling conditions. If the clouds aren't around, this guy serves nothing but pie after pie. Opposition teams will miss him. Worst new ball bowler in world cricket.

  • Kaushik on November 28, 2012, 18:21 GMT

    i think that stuart broad is the most obnoxious and overrated cricketer in the world today. if he was not chris broad's son, he would have had match bans by now. i hope for india's sake that he plays, but people like him disgrace a great game.

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