New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington, 3rd day March 16, 2013

Broad's heeling process

Stuart Broad's impressive spell in Wellington capped off a comeback from his heel injury and indifferent form
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Before the opening Test of this series it was widely accepted that Stuart Broad was bowling for his Test place. His cause was helped by Graham Onions' wayward show in Queenstown, which made it inevitable that Broad would return to the side. However, after a difficult six months, where form subsided and injury struck, he still had much to prove.

So far, it could not have gone much better in New Zealand. After encouraging Twenty20 and one-day displays, he showed glimpses in Dunedin that the tough times were behind him, bowling better than his figures suggested. In Wellington, his figures of 6 for 51 did not flatter him. This was the Broad who tore through India during 2011; brisk, accurate, full but with the clever use of a dangerous short ball. It was his most significant performance since taking 11 in the match against West Indies, at Lord's, last May - his five-wicket haul at Headingley, against South Africa, came too late to influence the direction of the match.

Some will cheapen the wickets with comments about the opposition, but this is not the same callow New Zealand order that was dismantled by South Africa and conditions, both the pitch and the weather, remained largely benign. Consistency is the challenge for him - it was of little surprise that he found reward with full deliveries - and this success does not mean it will be plain sailing, but every revival needs a starting point.

It could well be that the Basin Reserve has played a key part in Broad's career for the second time. It was here, in 2008, that he has handed his second Test cap and, for the first time, played alongside James Anderson in a Test after the established duo of Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison were dropped. Broad did not take the new ball on that occasion - Ryan Sidebottom was the senior quick - and neither did he start with it this time. However, by the time the second new ball was taken it was back in the hands of Broad. Promotion inside two Tests is a decent comeback.

"I was chatting to Jimmy," Broad said, "and this was where we made his breakthrough when he was my age so hopefully this is my time to go like he has."

His performances in India, where he ended wicketless in the two Tests he played, capped a slide during the latter half of 2012 but he should never have been playing that series. From the moment he went lame in the warm-up matches his trip never recovered. "I probably should have gone home then," he admitted. When England bowled out India in the second innings in Mumbai, Broad did not send down a delivery.

His heel problem emerged as a long-term concern and a trip to Germany followed to have custom-made boots fitted. Broad has acknowledged the problem will need managing; it is unlikely he will be able to front up for every one of England's Tests in 2013, although the same can be said for all the quicks in a demanding schedule. By the end of the third day in Wellington the boot was on the other foot with James Anderson battling a back problem, while Broad was savouring a largely pain-free experience.

"I've managed to get my heel right and it's nice to attack the crease with confidence knowing that ten times your body weight is going through your heel and it's able to withstand it. It's got better and better throughout the tour, I don't how or why, but it's getting used to the impact and touch wood I haven't felt it for about two and a half weeks. I feel I can tear in."

He revealed, too, that he has made some technical changes after noticing that he was delivering from very close to the stumps, which meant he crossed his feet in the action and lost impetus. Before this tour Gemma Broad, his sister who works on England's backroom staff, compiled clips of Broad's wickets from when he was previously in form and he immediately noticed the difference. "I got into a bad habit and was pushing the ball. My feet are now straight which means I can get my body through the action," he explained.

In the last few weeks it has become clear how important an in-form Broad is to England's Test hopes. The reserve options, so long lauded as the best in the world, no longer appear so deep when compared to Australia and South Africa. Onions has struggled through lack of cricket, Tim Bresnan is still recovering from elbow surgery, Chris Woakes does not yet appear a Test-class third seamer and Chris Tremlett needs to prove his body has one more sustained period cricket in it. England, therefore, cannot afford a player who now has 181 Test wickets to be a peripheral figure.

As is so often the case the success of one bowler, in this case Broad, relied on the work of others. "It was just my day to get the nicks," he said. England's attack hunted as a pack, putting the sort of daylight between them and New Zealand that had been predicted before the contests began. On another day it would have been Anderson with the five-wicket haul. His display with the old ball, against two set batsmen in Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling, was high-class swing bowling.

A mention, too, for Monty Panesar's role. He was not expected to play in this series, but Graeme Swann's injury has thrust him into the main spinners' position. No, he does not have a great variance in his pace but, regardless of what Shane Warne might think of it, trying to change the bowler he is will not serve England well.

Swann leaves a vast hole in the team - he may well have been a greater wicket-taking threat - but Panesar knew his role and performed it admirably. His long spell, split either side of lunch, of 17-8-28-0 ensured that the fast bowlers would have a crack at New Zealand's lower order with the a hard ball a few runs to play with. Broad, for one, was hugely grateful for that.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on March 16, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    Well written and timely piece Andrew.

    With players like Broad, proper management is just as essential as promising talent. My quibbles with the likes of Broad is that even when he carrying injuries, stuck in a rut of poor form, obsessed with short-pitched bowling which was reaping little reward and resulting in high economy rates... he was still kept in too many significant games even when the likes of Onions were in much better form and picking up wickets in the county circuit. If he is fit and in good form, great - what a fantastic asset for England! But if not, I sincerely hope England will not make the same mistakes again if the likes of Onions, Bresnan, Tremlett, Woakes etc. are kicking the proverbial door down.

  • Davo234 on March 17, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    @Mickey76, agree vs the players you selected (even though Smith is a batsman), but stats-wise his batting is similar to pattinson and Starc. He can certainly bat, but he's a bowler not an all-rounder.

  • JG2704 on March 16, 2013, 21:43 GMT

    @Andrew Edgington on (March 16, 2013, 16:37 GMT) I've given loads of reasoms - inc that - to do the 5/1/5 formation. It won't happen any time soon.

    To be fair , Eng do have a couple of number 6s in Root and Johnny who look like they can do a job

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on March 16, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    @mikey76: when players are stuck in bad form, 200 wickets to their name or not, those are the players I would rotate in the team for fringe players like those you've mentioned to get some experience.

  • mikey76 on March 16, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    It's worth noting for all the Broad detractors that despite his temporary loss of form he still has almost 200 test wickets and averages 25 with the bat. I don't care which team you follow, anyone would be happy to have his all round skills available to them. If you compare him with Glenn Maxwell or Henriques or Smith or Johnson then there is no comparison.

  • mikey76 on March 16, 2013, 17:56 GMT

    England need to use the return series in May to look at a couple of up and coming quicks on the county circuit. If Broad's heel flairs up again or Anderson has a problem then we need guys coming through who have had test match experience. We can't rely on Tremlett or Bresnan being fit. Whoever starts the CC season well, whether that be R-Jones or Meaker or Harris, they should get a game. Would be nice for Bairstow and Taylor to get a test in too before the ashes kicks off. We need to increase our options and strength in depth.

  • on March 16, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    2 points - (1) since I started watching cricket people have complained about English quicks trying to bowl too short. Broad is a case in point. (2) Play Prior at 6 for as long as he averages mid40s and pick 5 bowlers so that they are under less physical stress

  • bumsonseats on March 16, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    dustbowl you maybe listening to much to boycott. we have got enough with a couple coming back from long term injury tremlett will start the season onions just needs to get some games in for his county, as shown in nz he was very rusty, bresnan we hope can get back to his best along with some that GB has missed. i agree with you on aussie bowling stocks,but the batting is looking ordinary.

  • george204 on March 16, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    This seems to happen to Broad every two years or so: he gets this ridiculous idea into his head that he's a genuinely fast bowler, starts banging the ball in short, sledging & giving the batsman "the stare" (which is more comical than intimidating) - his average & strike rate skyrocket & talk begins of dropping him. Then someone reminds him to pitch the ball up & concentrate on accuracy (his greatest asset) and a deluge of wickets results. You'd think he'd have learned by now...

  • 2.14istherunrate on March 16, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    I would agree that Broad is essential to England as he is quite young still and has heaps of experience. His body will obviously have to be managed closely. People are now saying Aus have deeper fast bowling reserves. I ask 'Are they any good? Quite apart from the fact they seem injury prone-well in Cummins' case he is just too young and his body has responded negatively- are they quality bowlers. Johnson-the luckiest 200 plus wkt bowler ever perhaps, seems good every third game,Siddle is an up and down journeyman, Hilfenhaus may be the answer again in Engand,but equaly may be past his sellbydate, Bird has already flown off to the physios,leaving Starc and Pattinson of whom only Pattinson is definable quality,but needs someone else to do the thinking for him and is also injury prone. The spinners are... a joke. I would say Australia have a plethora of mediocrity. For England one should allow more chance for the injured to get it back and not discard hopefuls before time.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on March 16, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    Well written and timely piece Andrew.

    With players like Broad, proper management is just as essential as promising talent. My quibbles with the likes of Broad is that even when he carrying injuries, stuck in a rut of poor form, obsessed with short-pitched bowling which was reaping little reward and resulting in high economy rates... he was still kept in too many significant games even when the likes of Onions were in much better form and picking up wickets in the county circuit. If he is fit and in good form, great - what a fantastic asset for England! But if not, I sincerely hope England will not make the same mistakes again if the likes of Onions, Bresnan, Tremlett, Woakes etc. are kicking the proverbial door down.

  • Davo234 on March 17, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    @Mickey76, agree vs the players you selected (even though Smith is a batsman), but stats-wise his batting is similar to pattinson and Starc. He can certainly bat, but he's a bowler not an all-rounder.

  • JG2704 on March 16, 2013, 21:43 GMT

    @Andrew Edgington on (March 16, 2013, 16:37 GMT) I've given loads of reasoms - inc that - to do the 5/1/5 formation. It won't happen any time soon.

    To be fair , Eng do have a couple of number 6s in Root and Johnny who look like they can do a job

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on March 16, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    @mikey76: when players are stuck in bad form, 200 wickets to their name or not, those are the players I would rotate in the team for fringe players like those you've mentioned to get some experience.

  • mikey76 on March 16, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    It's worth noting for all the Broad detractors that despite his temporary loss of form he still has almost 200 test wickets and averages 25 with the bat. I don't care which team you follow, anyone would be happy to have his all round skills available to them. If you compare him with Glenn Maxwell or Henriques or Smith or Johnson then there is no comparison.

  • mikey76 on March 16, 2013, 17:56 GMT

    England need to use the return series in May to look at a couple of up and coming quicks on the county circuit. If Broad's heel flairs up again or Anderson has a problem then we need guys coming through who have had test match experience. We can't rely on Tremlett or Bresnan being fit. Whoever starts the CC season well, whether that be R-Jones or Meaker or Harris, they should get a game. Would be nice for Bairstow and Taylor to get a test in too before the ashes kicks off. We need to increase our options and strength in depth.

  • on March 16, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    2 points - (1) since I started watching cricket people have complained about English quicks trying to bowl too short. Broad is a case in point. (2) Play Prior at 6 for as long as he averages mid40s and pick 5 bowlers so that they are under less physical stress

  • bumsonseats on March 16, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    dustbowl you maybe listening to much to boycott. we have got enough with a couple coming back from long term injury tremlett will start the season onions just needs to get some games in for his county, as shown in nz he was very rusty, bresnan we hope can get back to his best along with some that GB has missed. i agree with you on aussie bowling stocks,but the batting is looking ordinary.

  • george204 on March 16, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    This seems to happen to Broad every two years or so: he gets this ridiculous idea into his head that he's a genuinely fast bowler, starts banging the ball in short, sledging & giving the batsman "the stare" (which is more comical than intimidating) - his average & strike rate skyrocket & talk begins of dropping him. Then someone reminds him to pitch the ball up & concentrate on accuracy (his greatest asset) and a deluge of wickets results. You'd think he'd have learned by now...

  • 2.14istherunrate on March 16, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    I would agree that Broad is essential to England as he is quite young still and has heaps of experience. His body will obviously have to be managed closely. People are now saying Aus have deeper fast bowling reserves. I ask 'Are they any good? Quite apart from the fact they seem injury prone-well in Cummins' case he is just too young and his body has responded negatively- are they quality bowlers. Johnson-the luckiest 200 plus wkt bowler ever perhaps, seems good every third game,Siddle is an up and down journeyman, Hilfenhaus may be the answer again in Engand,but equaly may be past his sellbydate, Bird has already flown off to the physios,leaving Starc and Pattinson of whom only Pattinson is definable quality,but needs someone else to do the thinking for him and is also injury prone. The spinners are... a joke. I would say Australia have a plethora of mediocrity. For England one should allow more chance for the injured to get it back and not discard hopefuls before time.

  • on March 16, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    DustBowl: presumably, you're talking about the Oz womens' team, who would currently beat the blokes easily.

  • Lmaotsetung on March 16, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    I wouldn't call since the SA series a LONG time. He only lost form for the latter part of last year...for basically 2 series (SA and India).

  • DustBowl on March 16, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Broad's loss of form has been going on for a LONG time. Given England's large backroom staff - how come the heel and the action issue were not spotted earlier? If Broad can keep this form up through two Ashes - great. But where are England's reserves JIC. Onions has been sadly neglected. The Oz seam bowling cupboard looks better stocked?

  • DustBowl on March 16, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Broad's loss of form has been going on for a LONG time. Given England's large backroom staff - how come the heel and the action issue were not spotted earlier? If Broad can keep this form up through two Ashes - great. But where are England's reserves JIC. Onions has been sadly neglected. The Oz seam bowling cupboard looks better stocked?

  • Lmaotsetung on March 16, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    I wouldn't call since the SA series a LONG time. He only lost form for the latter part of last year...for basically 2 series (SA and India).

  • on March 16, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    DustBowl: presumably, you're talking about the Oz womens' team, who would currently beat the blokes easily.

  • 2.14istherunrate on March 16, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    I would agree that Broad is essential to England as he is quite young still and has heaps of experience. His body will obviously have to be managed closely. People are now saying Aus have deeper fast bowling reserves. I ask 'Are they any good? Quite apart from the fact they seem injury prone-well in Cummins' case he is just too young and his body has responded negatively- are they quality bowlers. Johnson-the luckiest 200 plus wkt bowler ever perhaps, seems good every third game,Siddle is an up and down journeyman, Hilfenhaus may be the answer again in Engand,but equaly may be past his sellbydate, Bird has already flown off to the physios,leaving Starc and Pattinson of whom only Pattinson is definable quality,but needs someone else to do the thinking for him and is also injury prone. The spinners are... a joke. I would say Australia have a plethora of mediocrity. For England one should allow more chance for the injured to get it back and not discard hopefuls before time.

  • george204 on March 16, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    This seems to happen to Broad every two years or so: he gets this ridiculous idea into his head that he's a genuinely fast bowler, starts banging the ball in short, sledging & giving the batsman "the stare" (which is more comical than intimidating) - his average & strike rate skyrocket & talk begins of dropping him. Then someone reminds him to pitch the ball up & concentrate on accuracy (his greatest asset) and a deluge of wickets results. You'd think he'd have learned by now...

  • bumsonseats on March 16, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    dustbowl you maybe listening to much to boycott. we have got enough with a couple coming back from long term injury tremlett will start the season onions just needs to get some games in for his county, as shown in nz he was very rusty, bresnan we hope can get back to his best along with some that GB has missed. i agree with you on aussie bowling stocks,but the batting is looking ordinary.

  • on March 16, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    2 points - (1) since I started watching cricket people have complained about English quicks trying to bowl too short. Broad is a case in point. (2) Play Prior at 6 for as long as he averages mid40s and pick 5 bowlers so that they are under less physical stress

  • mikey76 on March 16, 2013, 17:56 GMT

    England need to use the return series in May to look at a couple of up and coming quicks on the county circuit. If Broad's heel flairs up again or Anderson has a problem then we need guys coming through who have had test match experience. We can't rely on Tremlett or Bresnan being fit. Whoever starts the CC season well, whether that be R-Jones or Meaker or Harris, they should get a game. Would be nice for Bairstow and Taylor to get a test in too before the ashes kicks off. We need to increase our options and strength in depth.

  • mikey76 on March 16, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    It's worth noting for all the Broad detractors that despite his temporary loss of form he still has almost 200 test wickets and averages 25 with the bat. I don't care which team you follow, anyone would be happy to have his all round skills available to them. If you compare him with Glenn Maxwell or Henriques or Smith or Johnson then there is no comparison.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on March 16, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    @mikey76: when players are stuck in bad form, 200 wickets to their name or not, those are the players I would rotate in the team for fringe players like those you've mentioned to get some experience.