Stuart Broad has not taken his omission from the England team currently taking part in the first Test against West Indies lightly. He is in fact making himself out to be a martyr and has spoken out without mincing words – “frustrated, angry, a decision difficult to understand, to say I am disappointed would be an understatement’’ are the words and phrases he has used.
On his overall record and even on recent figures it is difficult not to see his viewpoint. As England’s second-highest wicket-taker, as a strike bowler par excellence, as a vastly experienced campaigner and as a partner (along with James Anderson) in the most successful pairing in Test history with well over 1000 wickets between them, it is impossible to argue against his credentials. Moreover, at 34 he is still fit, and only in his last series in South Africa in January he finished with 14 wickets in the four-Test series.
Broad’s omission, in fact, broke a run of 51 consecutive Tests dating back to 2012 and while it is true that the competition has become more intense with the arrival of Mark Wood and Jofra Archer both of whom have performed admirably so far one would have thought that the tall spearhead would still be the first choice to partner Anderson while Archer and Wood wait in the wings. More so when he has been England’s leading wicket-taker in their two previous Test series – besides claiming the 14 wickets against South Africa at 19 apiece he also claimed 23 wickets in the Ashes series last year at 26 apiece.
“I have probably bowled the best I have ever bowled these last couple of years’’ said Broad to augment his claim even as he suggested that he had sought clarification from national selector Ed Smith both on his omission and on his future going forward. “I am not a particularly emotional person but I have found the last couple of days quite tough’’ he admitted.
Despite being angry and frustrated Broad readily accepted that the current competition for places is a healthy sign for England. There is tremendous depth in the fast bowling ranks for besides Archer and Wood there are also Chris Woakes and Sam Curran around. All the same Broad a veteran of 138 Tests and a haul of 485 wickets still feels that he is deserving of a place on merit – and who can argue with that?