Proteas in England

Broad a danger to Proteas?

2012-08-15 11:20
Stuart Broad (File)
Cape Town – For all the fuss around Kevin Pietersen’s omission from the England side for the decisive third Test against South Africa at Lord’s from Thursday, there may be some irony in the fact that Stuart Broad arguably shapes as the Proteas’ main obstacle to moving to No 1 in the Test rankings over the course of the next few days.

There is little doubt that the absence of the ever-controversial, Maritzburg-born Pietersen, fresh off a smoking-gun knock of 149 in the drawn second Test at Headingley, takes away a significant amount of menace from England’s batting order, whatever the merits or demerits of his cold shoulder treatment.

But if there is a remaining, genuine “form” player in the home ranks for this enticing encounter – the Proteas will both win the series and go top of the global pile if they simply avoid defeat – it is probably lower order all-rounder Broad.

The irony of that situation lies in the fact that the lanky 26-year-old has been the subject of rumours in the last few days that he, as much as any other player, has been at odds with the big-personality Pietersen in the England dressing room.

It stems from the fact that a fake, mocking “KP” Twitter account was created during Pietersen’s spat with his England bosses by a known friend of Broad’s.

The account has since been taken down, but Broad – England’s Twenty20 captain and now one of their senior players across the codes -- was forced to go as far as to officially deny any involvement in its establishment.

The incident is sure to leave at least some sort of aftertaste, even if it appears there are fresh conciliatory moves featuring Pietersen and the ECB.

But if the Proteas feel they may have an easier ride in this Test match, on paper, given Pietersen’s sudden omission after being such a stalwart of their middle order, they would do well to consider that Broad may just be particularly fired-up to shine at Lord’s.

While it is sometimes suggested that visiting teams to the hallowed venue often get a bigger thrill out of playing there than England do, because of the rarer opportunities to get on the honours boards for centuries or major hauls of wickets, Broad might be considered an “exception” to the trend because it is traditionally a very happy hunting ground for him.

He also enters the Test on a personal roll, after being the one England paceman to finally get a bee in his bonnet at Leeds – Broad had gone wicketless in the hammering at The Oval -- where he grabbed a second-innings “five-for” with some hostile fare.

Included among his victims was the prize scalp of Jacques Kallis, out gloving a short-pitched snorter as he tried in vain to evade it.

Broad’s was perhaps the most aggressive spell of shock bowling on either side yet in the series, which has been marked mostly by slowish pitches and thus not quite the level of high-pace thrills anticipated before series hostilities began.

He and Lord’s have been productive bedfellows: in his last Test there, against West Indies earlier this season, Broad grabbed career-best single-innings figures of seven for 72 in the tourists’ first knock, and followed it up with another four scalps in the second for comfortable rights to the player-of-the-match award.

Against India at the same ground in 2011 – a major series England won with surprising ease – he claimed seven wickets in the match and also struck an unbeaten 74.

Just a year earlier, Lord’s was also the location for Broad’s career-best batting effort: a remarkable, record-breaking innings of 169 from as low as the No 9 position after England had collapsed to 102 for seven in the first innings against Pakistan.

Thanks to his heroics, in tandem with a big century from Jonathan Trott (a slightly less tempestuous South African-born England batsman than Pietersen is) the hosts recovered to an entirely beefier 446 all out.

Whether Pietersen had turned out or not, smart money suggests South Africa will do enough to secure the series at Lord’s, on current form and based on notably greater team stability, too.

But they might do well to consider that a certain SCJ Broad, who has got under the Proteas’ skins before, will be among remaining England players with determined, party-spoiling plans.

*Play starts at noon (SA time) from Thursday.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas in england  |  stuart broad  |  cricket
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