Stuart broad’s brilliant performance for England in the 3rd innings of the 3rd test match against South Africa sealed both the match and the series for the visitors. As a result, England have taken an unassailable 2-0 lead with one test remaining in the four match series.
Broad’s figures of 6-17 which included a seventh 5-wicket haul in a single session is becoming somewhat of a good habit for the Nottinghamshire fast bowler. Whilst other bowlers around the world are considered more consistent, Broad’s knack of producing match winning performances when a test hangs in the balance is becoming ever more vital to this emerging England team.
Broad’s performance bought back memories of his 8-15 in the crucial Ashes test at Trent bridge in their 2013 series win over Australia. The Ozzie batting line-up was blown away by a deadly mix of swing, pace and bounce. When Stuart gets into a rhythm bowling full and into that corridor of uncertainty just outside off stump he becomes almost impossible for even the best batsmen to play, as AB De Villiers will testify. For the first time in a long time Broad, it must be said, was aided by a surface at the Wanderers that had plenty in it for the bowlers. It must have been a pleasant change from the dusty, dry, slow pitches of the UAE and the previous wicket in Cape Town. Whilst these tests may not have produced an avalanche of wickets like they did in Johannesburg they have proved a useful test for Broad’s discipline, consistency and variation of delivery.
With the returning James Anderson looking short of match practice and fitness, England needed someone else to step up and lead the bowling attack and Broad happily obliged. Steven Finn was comfortably the pick of the bowlers in the 1st innings but Broad showed his immense value to the team in killing the game off and leaving England with a formality of a run chase.
Since January 1st 2012 he has taken more international test wickets than anyone else in world cricket and has rightly moved to the top of the ICC bowling rankings for 2016. These stats highlight further the importance that Broad has within the England team over the longer term, especially with James Anderson seemingly in the twilight of his stellar career. Broad has recently leapfrogged paceman Bob Willis in the all-time list of English test wicket takers that Anderson heads, will Broad get close to surpassing his team mate? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure this young, energetic England team are playing some exciting cricket and long way it continue to keep the sporting public watching the 5 day format of the game. With the ever increasing popularity of the Big Bash, the IPL and other T-20 tournaments, test cricket attendances have been falling. Let’s hope with performances such as Broad’s demolition job in Jo’Burg, it keeps the punters flocking back.