Wednesday, May 29, 2013

England buoyed by a better Broad


Stuart Broad's timely return to top form in England's win over New Zealand in the first Test of the summer is great news for Andy Flower's side because they need the pace bowler at his best if they are to hold on to the Ashes.

Recently, Broad has been a pale shadow of the player that was one of the stars of the last Ashes success on home soil back in 2009 but he announced himself back to somewhere near his optimum level at Lord's and, if he can build on this most welcome of starts to a busy few months, then most
Ashes Tips writers will believe retaining the Ashes is very much within England’s grasp.

Broad finished the first Test with best-ever figures of 7-44 as the tourists were skittled for a measly 68 in their second innings and it was this devastating spell that turned an otherwise tight clash England's favour. It was the type of assured pace bowling performance that Broad used to turn in regularly and he really proved to be his country's matchwinner in a game that was much closer than many had predicted.

Broad, who is still only 26 and therefore has plenty of time yet to develop further, has been a big-game performer for England for some time now despite accusations of inconsistency. He has suffered alarming dips in form and appears very much a confidence player, who truly operates at a world-class level when his head is right and he is injury-free but, when it matters most, he can usually be relied upon.

Alongside Jimmy Anderson, Broad remains one of England's most potent weapons and, when at the top of his game, can scare the very best sides in the world.

His performance against an admittedly weak Kiwis side should not be one anyone gets too carried away with but it certainly bodes well for the summer, with the
 First Test against Australia only six weeks away. Because England stand little chance of Ashes glory unless a fully-firing Broad is around.

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