Stuart Broad faces the prospect of not taking the new ball when the Test series against New Zealand starts next week having seen other pace bowlers given a chance in the role during the warm-ups in Hamilton.
Mark Wood took the first new ball in the pink ball match and Chris Woakes shared it with James Anderson with the red ball. Broad did return to his usual position with the second new ball on both occasions, but splitting his partnership with Anderson appears not just an idea for the practice days and that Joe Root is considering the change for the Tests.
“Obviously he’s disappointed, he’s a very proud bloke and we have opened the bowling for a number of years,” Anderson told Sky Sports. “He’s bowled first change in the past and I can see Joe wants to do with looking to the future but also having that experience coming on first change.”
After taking the new ball earlier in the week, Wood revealed that Root was starting to think about a future without either Anderson or Broad. Other than against Bangladesh in Chittagong in 2016, when England opened with two spinners, and the 2013 Ashes Test at Trent Bridge where he had been struck while batting in the first innings, the last time Broad has not opened the bowling was in New Zealand on 2013 tour when he slipped behind Steven Finn.
Chris Silverwood, England’s new bowling coach, who is working with Anderson and Broad for the first time on this tour, was more guarded in his views. “It’s just people looking at various options really, that’s all, trying certain things out so we know exactly where we are when we come to the first Test,” he said. “We want to make sure we get the right combinations. Obviously he and James are outstanding bowlers for us, and they are going to play a huge part for us in the series.”
Broad will begin the Test series on 399 wickets and sits second behind Anderson in England’s all-time list but he had a poor 2017 where he claimed 30 wickets at 36.06, his most expensive year since 2010. He spent the time between the Ashes and New Zealand working extensively in the nets to try and regain the outswinger to the right hander. Whether the move to promote others to the new ball in the warm-ups is an attempt to stir Broad’s competitive juices remains to be seen, but he has looked in good rhythm in Hamilton.
“I think he’s bowled beautifully,” Silverwood said. “He’s worked really hard in the nets, put a shift in and he’s got the rewards for it today. I thought his first spell was outstanding.”
Anderson has seen a big difference since the Ashes. “Stuart has done a lot of work on his action in the time off and I think the last two games he’s looked a different bowler,” he said. “He looks refreshed, confident, his action looks strong and he’s getting the ball to move away from the right handers which he’s struggled a bit with in recent time. It’s a good option to have him, potentially, coming on first change.”