CAPE TOWN, Feb 12: Former pacer Stuart Broad says the ongoing India-England Test series is the most evenly-matched contest that he has seen between the two sides but the visitors have a strong chance of emerging triumphant as the “fire, passion and competitiveness” of Virat Kohli is missing from the home team’s arsenal.
Speaking to PTI on the sidelines of the just-concluded SA20, where he was a commentator, Broad said the absence of Kohli due to personal reasons is a downer but the matches so far have been engrossing.
The five-match series is locked 1-1 and the two teams will now square off in the third game in Rajkot, beginning February 15.
“(The) first two matches were very competitive and it is one of the most exciting India-England Test series that I have seen. It is the most level series,” he said.
“India won the last Test but England’s playing style (‘Bazball’) is quite effective in India. With Virat not in the team, it is a great opportunity for the England team,” he added.
Broad feels Kohli’s break has also opened a window of opportunity for the youngsters in the Indian team to make a name for themselves.
“The battle between Virat and England bowlers had been great in the past. (James) Anderson and Kohli’s battles are quite famous. It’s a shame for the series and the sport that he will be missing,” he observed.
“…Virat adds to the quality of any contest because he is such a wonderful player who brings fire, passion, competitiveness and great fan following to the sport. But personal matters always take preference over cricketing matters,” he said.
“We saw in the last match when Yashaswi Jaiswal scored a brilliant double century,” pointed out the bowler who snared 604 wickets in 167 Tests.
Broad said he is also very happy with the performance of his former new-ball partner James Anderson on India’s unresponsive tracks. Anderson replaced Mark Wood in the second Test at Visakhapatnam and picked up five wickets.
“We saw in the second Test, seamers played an important role with Jasprit Bumrah giving a match-winning performance and Jimmy bowling like that on those pitches.
“Everyone expected that the pitch might spin a little bit more but seamers had a lot more success. Maybe with the moisture in the morning,” he said.
“Jimmy is nearing 700 wickets and I know he is someone who always takes wickets in a winning cause,” he added about the 41-year-old Anderson, who has claimed 179 Test wickets against India in 68 tests.
Broad and Anderson formed an intimidating pace partnership at the peak of their prowess but he does not believe that they were the last great Test fast bowling pair in the era of T20 cricket. But he did agree that to take more than 1200 wickets together will be difficult for another set of two pacers.
“I don’t think we are the last of the great bowing partnership in Test cricket. I think Jasprit Bumrah is an outstanding Test bowler. I don’t think our partnership, in terms of wickets we have taken, will get overtaken because of the longevity of our career,” he said.
“I certainly think that there will be bowling partnerships that will light up world cricket in the next few years,” he added.
“I grew up watching fast bowling partnerships like Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose, Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram, Darren Gaugh and Andy Caddick to name a few. I am sure there will be another partnership coming soon.”
Describing Test cricket as the pinnacle of the game, the former England captain said a window for the format should be created in which all nations can play at the same time.
“I think the charm of Test Cricket is unmatched . It is a wonderful spectacle. There are many T20 leagues now and a number of World Cups coming around so scheduling is difficult to fit.
“I can certainly see a period where we have a window for Test Cricket where all the nations are playing at the same time, kids watching highlights, talking about the performances of different teams,” he said.
He also advised young fast bowlers to balance their training to increase their career span.
“Every bowler should find out what works for him for longevity. I liked running which I found crucial for my injury prevention. Jimmy and I did a lot of heavy weight lifting as well that really helped us.
“It’s quite different in Test cricket with 25 overs a day while in T20 it’s only four. You don’t need much power, just balanced training,” he said. (PTI)