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Rediff.com  » Cricket » I am best when I pitch the ball up: Broad

I am best when I pitch the ball up: Broad

Last updated on: August 4, 2011 19:00 IST

Broad's form was under the scanner

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Bikash Mohapatra in Nottingham

Now that he is back among the runs and wickets, Stuart Broad tells Bikash Mohapatra he will not hesitate to 'rough up batsmen if the team wants him to'.

From someone whose selection to England's squad for the opening Test against India at Lord's raised a few eyebrows, to emerging the most consistent performer in the series thus far, Stuart Broad has come a long way.

The turnaround happened in a matter of two weeks.

Having taken just two wickets in England's memorable Ashes triumph, Broad did little for his cause in the home series against Sri Lanka, claiming only eight wickets in the three Tests played, even as England celebrated a 1-0 series triumph.

The 25-year-old's form, thus, was under the scanner, and it did not come across as a surprise when England's new Twenty20 skipper was dropped for the fifth and final one-day international against Sri Lanka following his failure to take wickets on a consistent basis.


Image: Stuart Broad

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Broad's stong reply to the acid test

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What did surprise, however, was his inclusion for the Lord's Test, ahead of Steven Finn. Many were of the opinion that his match figures of 6 for 162 for Nottinghamshire against Somerset (including five for 95 in the first innings), in a four-day game, got him the nod for a Test that was historic in more ways than one.

It was an acid test, so to speak, and Broad had anything but as auspicious start, Praveen Kumar trapping him leg before first ball.

However, things changed, when England, after declaring at 474 for eight, came out to bowl. Broad, brought in to replace James Anderson, struck in his third over, rattling Gautam Gambhir's stumps, to end a 63-run opening wicket partnership with Abhinav Mukund.


Image: Stuart Broad

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He had impressive figures in the first innings at Lord's

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The wickets of Mukund, Sachin Tendulkar and Praveen Kumar followed and Broad finished with impressive figures of 4 for 37.

Thereafter, it was time to prove himself with the bat.

Coming in with his team precariously placed at 107 for six in the second innings, Broad provided Matt Prior (104 not out) adequate support, putting on 162 runs in an unbroken seventh wicket stand, while scoring an attacking 74 not out.

Another three wickets in the Indian second innings meant he had played a stellar role in what was a memorable England triumph.


Image: Stuart Broad

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His 64 helped England post a competitive total at Trent Bridge

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The second Test at Trent Bridge was a step forward.

His aggressive 64 helped England recover from 124 for 8 and post a competitive 221 in their first innings.

When India batted, Broad recorded career-best figures of six for 46, including a memorable hat-trick on what is his home ground. A further 44 runs and two wickets in the second innings saw the man-of-the-match award come his way.

An aggregate of 182 runs, in three innings, and 15 wickets in the last two Tests meant Broad had silenced his critics.


Image: Stuart Broad

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'I am best when I pitch the ball up'

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So what adjustment did he make in these two Tests, vis- -vis against Sri Lanka, that worked to his favour?

His reply was two-fold.

"I am best when I pitch the ball up and get some movement," he explained, adding, "I have bowled a slightly fuller length in these two Tests and the ball has swung.

"The way I am bowling now is certainly the way to go, and this is the template I will look to emulate in the future."


Image: Stuart Broad

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'When the team needs to rough up batsmen, the ball comes to me'

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The second was a pragmatic one.

"Everyone in the team knows my past success has been as a first change bowler, but you are asked to do different roles within the side.

"When the moment comes, when the team needs a bowler to rough a batsman up or get two men out, then the ball comes to me, as my bounce is pretty good and has a decent yard in it," he said.

Broad's indication to his role as an enforcer during the series against Sri Lanka, a move that had backfired, prompted coach Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss to do some damage control.


Image: Stuart Broad celebrates after picking Sachin Tendulkar's wicket in the first Test

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'Cricket is a strange sport'

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He was, however, philosophical, about the whole episode.

"Cricket's a strange sport; it can change from day to day. I may seem in a rhythm now, but I have played like that all summer," explained Broad.

"It is just that in the first half of the summer I wasn't getting wickets. I, perhaps, didn't hit the areas as consistently against Sri Lanka, as I have done in the last couple of games.

"It's nice when things are going your way, though, especially if you have had a tough time in the last couple of months," he added.


Image: Stuart Broad with teammates

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'Always under pressure with guys ready to grab your spot'

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Broad made no bones about the competition for places in the current England, saying it inspires a player to give his best.

"As an international cricketer you are always under pressure with guys ready to grab your spot. That, I think, is a healthy sign because that means you have to always keep performing."

The pacer appeared content with his effort in the two Tests.

"It's great to perform in a Test win. To make an impact in a game like, say, in Nottingham, and getting a hat-trick on my home ground, it is something I will look back with pleasure in the future," he said.

Now that he is back among the runs and wickets, he declared he will not hesitate to move out of his comfort zone and play the role of enforcer again.

"If the team needs to rough up a batsman, I am more than happy to do that!"


Image: Stuart Broad

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