Stuart Broad says he is “angry, frustrated and gutted” at being dropped for the ongoing first Test between England and West Indies, saying he felt he was the man in possession coming into this series.
The 34-year old, with 485 wickets to his name, was left out of the XI at the Ageas Bowl as England opted for the extra pace on Mark Wood and Jofra Archer to supplement Broad’s long-term partner James Anderson. But after the West Indies made it to 57 for one at stumps on day two after England were bowled out for 204 after stand-in captain Ben Stokes opted to bat first, thoughts began to wonder if Broad might have made more telling contributions in the 19 overs Anderson, Wood and Archer had between them.
Broad was informed of the decision at 6pm on Tuesday – the night before the Test began – and had a meeting with national selector Ed Smith on Thursday evening for “clarifications on the future”. The conversations, though positive, did not tempter the right-armers feelings who took 23 wickets in the Ashes last summer and was England’s most successful bowler in the recent tour of South Africa with 14 at an average of 19.20.
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His omission ended a streak of 51 home Test matches for Broad. The last time he missed out on an XI was also against the West Indies, back in 2012.
“I’m not a particularly emotional person,” he said on Sky before the start of day three. “But I’ve found the last couple of days quite tough. To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement. You only get disappointed if you drop your phone and break your screen.
“I’ve been frustrated, angry, gutted – because it’s quite a hard decision to understand. I’ve probably bowled the best I’ve ever bowled in the last couple of years. I felt like it was my shirt having been in the team through the Ashes and going to South Africa and winning there.
“So it is hard to take but also I’m quite pleased I feel frustrated and feel gutted and angry because if I didn’t I’d have a different decision to make. So I don’t think I’ve got anything to prove – England know what I can do. The selectors know what I can do. And when I get that opportunity again you can beat I’ll be on the money.”
Broad is right – “the last couple of years” have been good ones, with 87 dismissals at 25.77. Only Australians Pat Cummins (107) and Nathan Lyon (104), and South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada (92) have taken more.
The period ties in with a reworking of his action with the help of New Zealand and Nottinghamshire legend Richard Hadlee. He shortened his run-up and made himself more compact at the point of delivery to heighten his release position. The benefits were particular clear last summer as he bowled fuller, and also suggested talk of his decline were premature.
Broad, though, acknowledges the current circumstances brought about by the pandemic, where no cricket has been played since March, mean England are in the unique position of having a greater proportion of their quick bowlers match fit. Chris Woakes and Sam Curran, for instance, are also biding their time carrying drinks.
“Very rarely do you get guys fit and available for each Test match,” said Broad. “That’s where selection has been tricky. That’s where it has been tough and that’s where it’s frustrating when you don’t play. But also you can’t argue the bowlers walking on that field don’t deserve to play as well, everyone deserves to play. It’s just annoying when it’s not you that’s in that XI.”
“It’s great to see strength and depth in the fast bowling ranks. It’s the only way that England cricket moves forward and gets better. And with high competition in squads it keeps the standard high and it allows the players to play under pressure. Everyone is under pressure for their spots.”
The uniqueness of the bubble the playing and non-playing group are in was highlighted. yesterday when Broad, who had the day off from 12th man duties, watched the match from his hotel balcony that overlooks the ground. Along with supporting the XI that are involved in the match, his focus is on the second Test which is due to begin at Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester, on 16 July.
“To me now I’ll be doing as much as I can in the next week so make sure I’m available for Old Trafford. The chairman of selectors made to clear they will be picking pitch for pitch. The decision to go with extra pace on this pitch. Is based on being here at the Ageas Bowl and based on this pitch. That means if I get to old Trafford it looks like it might seam from full of a length, I might have a chance.”