There can be only two possible contenders for this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week award and it is virtually impossible to separate them. Stuart Broad took the man of the match award at Lord’s for leading the second innings demolition of New Zealand, but without James Anderson’s first innings five-fer there might not have been much of a run chase for the Black Caps on day four.
As a result, this week’s award is shared between the man whom England bowling coach David Saker has termed “the most skilful bowler in the world” and the frustratingly inconsistent but occasionally brilliant Broad.
Anderson is a bowler who always seems to have to earn his wickets. This was perfectly illustrated by his first innings performance when he became only the fourth Englishman to take 300 Test wickets on his way to dismissing five of the Kiwi top-order, while Steven Finn, who bowled comparatively poorly, achieved an almost identical reward by removing four of the lower-order.
He was then overshadowed in the second innings by Broad, despite bowling just as well, with the comparative economy rates of the two - Anderson’s two an over to Broad’s four - not receiving as much attention as they might had the wickets column read differently.
That is to take nothing away from Broad’s performance. He decimated the New Zealand top-order, with the delivery that clean bowled Hamish Rutherford surely giving him particular delight. He ended with career-best figures of seven for 44 with some of the statistics from the day making for particularly pleasant reading. His strike rate was exceptional - only four times in Test history has a bowler bowled fewer deliveries to finish with as many wickets - while he and Anderson represented the first time since 1936 that two England bowlers had bowled unchanged throughout an innings to win a Test match. Broad was also crucial to the fact that it was only the second time in New Zealand’s Test history that all of their top six fell in single figures.
© Cricket World 2013
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