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Ashes 2021/22

‘I can’t believe he’s not playing’ – Harmison criticises England’s decision to leave out Broad

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

England’s decision to leave out Stuart Broad for the opening Test of the 2021/22 Ashes came under criticism from former England quick Steve Harmison.

England had previously announced on the eve of the Test that James Anderson, although fit, was to be rested in order to keep him fully ready for the day/night Test at Adelaide that commences just four days after the scheduled fifth day at Brisbane. Broad’s omission meant that England went into a men’s Ashes Test with neither Broad or Anderson in the XI for the first time since the 2006 Melbourne Test.

Harmison, speaking on BT Sport’s pre-match coverage, was critical of the call, highlighting Broad’s experience and recent success against left-handers – Australia have four in their top seven.

“I think this is a big call,” said Harmison. “If I were to gamble, I would have taken a gamble on Stuart at the Gabba, against Australia, against their left-handers. If he got injured, the gamble would have been worthwhile taking.

“I’d have picked Stuart Broad in this Test match because of what he stands for, who he is, and his bowling to left-handers, it’s something I would have gambled on.

“I wouldn’t have gambled on Jimmy because Jimmy’s record at the Gabba is not great. I definitely would have gambled on Stuart. I can’t believe that he’s not playing.”

At the toss, England captain Joe Root admitted that it was a tough call to leave Broad out.

Root said: “We’re blessed with a very good seam attack and a very good squad out here, in that department in particular and it was a very difficult decision to make. But there are five Test matches, all those guys I’m sure will be wanting to play a big part throughout this series and it’s important that they’re ready to go if they’re called upon at any time.”

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