At the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday, on international cricket’s return from the Covid-19 hiatus, England’s stand-in captain Ben Stokes announced that Broad had been left out of the XI for the first Test against West Indies, along with Chris Woakes. It meant Broad missed his first home Test since 2012, and facilitated the first Test in which Mark Wood and Jofra Archer could play together.
Michael Holding was “shocked” by the decision to drop England’s second-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket – he is 15 shy of 500 Test wickets – especially since it broke the Anderson-Broad duo – England’s most successful bowling pair.
And Hussain, the former captain, feared England had taken the easy way out by not opting to pick between the express duo of Archer and Wood. “He is a pretty serious talent and you’d want to get the most out of him while he is around,” Hussain said on Sky Sports. “He may have two years left in his legs, you may want to get as much out of him as possible.
“I hope they haven’t gone down the easy, ‘We can’t choose between Archer and Wood. Can’t choose between them, so we’ll leave Broad out.’”
Hussain went on to point out that Broad, England’s best paceman in South Africa earlier this year with 14 wickets, tormented someone as accomplished as David Warner during the Ashes last year. “Broad got Warner out seven times last summer. Are we forgetting that?” Hussain said.
“I think the West Indies won’t mind seeing him sat down in the dressing room and not being out there with Jimmy Anderson.”
What do you make of England’s decision to leave out Stuart Broad for the first Test against West Indies?https://t.co/udHJCODEmt
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) July 8, 2020
Broad is 34, and Anderson 37 – Atherton believed this was the beginning of phasing out period for the two legends, with the latter in particular being troubled by injuries over the past year.
“Until now if James Anderson and Stuart Broad were fit and available for selection in a Test match in England they would have always up to this point been first choice for any captain,” Atherton said on Sky Sports. “They’ve been the best and most enduring new-ball partnership England have ever had.
“It’s a big moment and it’s really a glimpse into the future. England have got their eye on India next winter, they’ve got their eye on Australia in two winters’ time. It was just a question of how you move on from Broad and Anderson, whether you do it gradually, whether you try squeeze whatever last drops of juice they’ve got, they’ve decided to make that change now.”
However, for Broad, Atherton said it was far from the end. “There are six Tests in six weeks and Stuart Broad at some stage this summer will get a chance to make his case, and boy, will he want to make that case.”