Kevin Pietersen: Stuart Broad needs to be kept on his toes
The Betway ambassador says England should keep leaving out one of Broad and Jimmy Anderson if they are unlikely to both make it on the Ashes tour next year.
We’re seeing the best of Test cricket in this series
It’s been a really good fortnight for Test cricket.
That one team can win one week and then the other can come back the next is a nice reflection of how competitive the game is.
Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game. It’s a game of cat and mouse, of understanding conditions and knowing when to be patient and when to attack. It tests your mind.
We have seen all of that in this series so far.
Both matches have been affected by weather but have produced results, which is testament to the aggressive approach of both teams, but we also have players like Dom Sibley, who can just bat and bat.
England, for some reason, are slow starters. They always were when I played and they still are – I don’t know why. But the fact that they have come back into the series with their victory at Old Trafford leads nicely into this winner-takes-all Test match.
Stokes is now comparable to the great all-rounders
It’s a compliment to Ben Stokes that he is now being compared to some of the greatest all-rounders of all time.
Jacques Kallis, for example, is the greatest player to ever play the game. He scored Test hundred after Test hundred – Stokes will never be the batsman that he was, but he can bowl fast and always makes something happen with the ball.
Kallis had longevity, too. Stokes has only played 65 Tests matches, so he’s still got another 100 to go to get up to Kallis’ levels. But he’s on course. He’s a supreme athlete and England are very fortunate to have him to cover a lot of the gaps in their team.
It makes sense to keep leaving out one of Broad and Anderson
Regardless of what happens this week, it looks like the selectors are ready for at least one of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad not to go to Australia next year. They haven’t been selected in the same team yet this summer, so it seems like they’re thinking that if at least one of them won’t make it that far, then what’s the point in playing them together now?
I think there is plenty of sense in that.
The key for Broad is consistency, because he can go into a relaxed place where he just runs in and bowls at 82 miles per hour.
At the end of their careers, every single England player will be judged on Ashes cricket. How did you go in the Ashes? What happened? Did you set any records? What was the story?
That series in 18 months’ time is a huge one. England need to find the right combination with the ball to win them the Ashes down under, the combination that are committed to bowling every single ball with passion and pride. That’s how they should be thinking ahead of their selection for this Test and future home Test matches.
When you look at the way that Broad bowled at Old Trafford last week, that isn’t in doubt. The key for him is the consistency, because he can go into a place where he just runs in and bowls at 82 miles per hour and lives off his name and his wickets tally. Joe Root needs to make sure that he has the Broad with a point to prove more often than not, rather than the Broad who relaxes into the situation.
He needs to be kept on his toes, so it makes sense to chop and change him with Anderson, who I just don’t think will make it to Australia. An ongoing calf injury is very difficult to fully recover from.
Mark Wood and Chris Woakes, I have no doubts about. They should be a big part of the plans.
It will be interesting to see how the ECB look after Jofra Archer, or if they do look after him. He’s come under a lot of criticism and rightly so – it was a silly, silly thing to do and he could have cost the ECB millions of pounds. They need to work out what his situation is – whether he wants to commit to Test matches or wants to focus on white-ball cricket.
Sam Curran is the last of the six. I think he’s a squad player at the moment, somebody who can sometimes come in and make a difference.
I see him as the back-up all-rounder to Stokes rather than an out-and-out bowler, who might take you 10 wickets in a match. He’s not a first-choice bowler or a first-choice batsman yet, no way.
Buttler has a mental issue with the red ball
It is not really for broadcasters and pundits to say whether Jos Buttler should be dropped, because it’s a mental issue rather than a technical issue. We can’t get inside his head.
It may just be time for the management to speak to him and discuss his future. Does he fancy Test cricket? Or is it more hassle than it’s worth when he could go away and concentrate on the shorter form?
I think he deserves to be spoken to and asked those questions. He’s such a wonderful player, a big member of the team, but I do know that he prefers the white ball to the red ball.
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