Cricket News: England has recalled “caged tiger” Stuart Broad for the fourth Ashes Test, allowing him to vent his frustrations following a minor role in the series thus far.
Broad said in his daily column over the weekend that appearing in only one of the first three matches had been a major disappointment, but he now has a chance to redeem himself at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
He replaces Ollie Robinson, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, and will be tasked with boosting the morale of a team that is at a low ebb – 3-0 down and without four of their coaching staff owing to a Covid-19 outbreak in the camp that appears to be over.
Broad is England’s second-highest wicket-taker against Australia, with 120 wickets, three behind Bob Willis and eight behind Sir Ian Botham, and the 35-year-old had intended to make a bigger impression in his eighth and possibly final match against the old foe.
In the absence of Chris Silverwood, assistant coach Graham Thorpe took care of team selection with captain Joe Root, and he stated that both Broad and all-rounder Ben Stokes were apprehensive about returning to the field.
Unlike Broad, Stokes has been there throughout the series, but he has yet to reclaim his best form with the bat or the ball after returning from a five-month layoff.
“I hope I’ve got a couple of caged tigers coming into this match. Ben being one and Stuart Broad another one,” said Thorpe.
“I’ve been in contact with Spoons (Silverwood) throughout regarding the selection of the team and he’s been kept in the loop. I and Joe, being on the ground, have been able to assess the surface and our bowlers and it felt like a risk to go into it with a couple of lads carrying niggles. So it was right to bring Stuart back in.”
Robinson has taken nine wickets at a strike rate of 26 in 87.2 overs, making him England’s leading wicket-taker and most-used bowler on the tour. With a minor hamstring concern in Melbourne and now wear and tear in his shoulder, the workload was beginning to take its toll.
Chris Woakes is also dealing with a shoulder problem, so Broad is the logical choice.
However, England still has a big tail, and any temptation to pick Dom Bess over fellow spinner Jack Leach because of his batting ability has been avoided.
Meanwhile, following a disastrous performance in the 68 all out, the top seven have been retained, leaving Rory Burns and Ollie Pope on the outside and Dan Lawrence awaiting his first appearance of the trip.
In the absence of a full complement of specialised coaches – in addition to Silverwood, England is missing fast bowling coach Jon Lewis, spin guru Jeetan Patel, and strength and conditioning expert Darren Veness – Thorpe has placed a premium on getting the players calm and ready to play.
“I’ve had to let them off the leash a little bit,” he explained, “enjoy what they’re doing, have fun, and get that tension out of the body.”
“It’s just chatting to them, making sure they’re okay, or encouraging them to go to the beach and swim.” I encourage them to hold on to their convictions.
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