Stuart Broad is ready for the the possibility of England rotating their pace bowlers during the Test series against India, which involves five matches in six weeks.
Broad, who has overcome an ankle injury to be ready for the series, is one of five pace options in the squad for the first Test at Edgbaston – including the uncapped Jamie Porter – and knows that the demands of the schedule will make it a challenge to be ever-present.
His new-ball partner James Anderson will also come into the series having had to manage injury since the Pakistan series. Broad revealed there have already been discussions over the scenario where a quick is rested and how that would be dealt with.
“I think there has already been small conversations saying about ‘don’t be disheartened if you are left out for a Test match’, it’s not a personal attack or dropping, it’s management of your bowlers to make sure we give ourselves the best chance,” Broad said.
“I won’t get to the stage where I am left out at say, Lord’s, I’d go back and play county cricket, if you’re missing out, fresh bowlers come in, you stay around [the squad], keep talking, stay part of the unit so it’s only natural to expect small changes throughout five Test matches, but the bowlers have to be able to take it.”
While the warm summer in the UK could lead to flat pitches and the potential for some back-breaking work for the seamers, there is also the chance of it working the other way if conditions demand that the spinners do a lot of the work. Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali have been recalled to the England squad – the former’s comeback prompting much debate – and both are expected to feature this week.
“If the pitches turn square and the spinners do a lot of the work, you might not bowl so much but come on when the ball starts to reverse swing,” Broad said. “So sometimes your workloads can be higher if green and nibbling, but if it turns the spinners will bowl 20-30 overs each before the new ball.”
“The positive is we haven’t had a huge amount of overs towards the end of June then July, so we’re going into a five Test series in just over six weeks really fresh. It’s going to be tough, we get a break in a series normally but the fixtures have fallen such that it’s going to be a physical challenge for the bowlers and we need to be fresh, fit..and I think we all will be.”
As far as the first Test is concerned, Broad is confident that he will enter the contest at full fitness despite the recent ankle problem that flared up at the end of June. The injury stemmed from swelling that put pressure on his ligaments. He has had one Championship match, against Surrey, to prepare for India where he took 2 for 80 off 19 overs.
“I was looking out for pain and swelling but there was none first innings and the overs leading in,” he said. “I had no pain after the game, I am going in 100% fit and you can’t say that too often so it’s an exciting place to be.”
One of England’s key challenges with the ball will be getting past Virat Kohli, who will be desperate to correct one of the few anomalies on his CV: a Test average in England of 13.40 after a torrid time in the 2014 tour. But whereas on the subcontinent that may involve coming up with ‘funky’ plans to outwit the batsmen, Broad believes that traditional virtues could still hold sway despite the recent heatwave.
“The history of Test cricket will suggest if you hold the top of off longer than anyone else you will have success, in England particularly it’s about owning the top of off,” he said. “Say you’re playing against someone like Graeme Smith, it’s very different technique, but I don’t think Kohli has a thing like that. Steve Smith you bowl different to a normal right-hander but Kohli is quite orthodox.
“Your plans can be simpler and you just have to out-patience world class batsmen at both ends. As a bowling unit we will just have to make it as hard for all of their batsman but particularly a key player like Virat to score earlier and try and create pressure that way. We won’t have Headingley in June pitch, it will be attritional cricket where you hold for periods of time and try to speed the game up day three four and five.”