Broady should go, key decisions for Anderson and Cook…

I’M no fan of scapegoat syndrome in sport – or in life for that matter.

Your team loses, there must be someone to blame. Sack the coach, drop a player and fool yourself all will be well.

Having said that, defeat in an Ashes series is a watershed moment in the world of English cricket.

Realistic decisions have to be made for the future.

The question that needs to be asked of every English cricketer is:  is he likely to be a factor when the Aussies defend their winnings in England in 2019?

On that basis, I think it’s time to say farewell to Stuart Broad, attempt to nurse Jimmy Anderson through a final two years and have a make-or-break chat with Alistair Cook.

Broad has been a fine Test bowler who has occasionally produced astonishing performances.

His eight wickets for 15 at Trent Bridge to virtually clinch the Ashes series two years ago will long live in the memory.

But, watching him this summer bowling for Notts, gave me my initial indication that his time has gone.

There was little comparison between Broad bowling at one end and Aussie paceman James Pattinson at the other.

Broad, shorn of his outswinger, looked manageable whilst Pattinson, probably Australia’s fourth choice if fit, had batsmen hopping around.

But it’s the pathetic sight of Broad at the batting crease that has made my mind up.

In his prime, Broad would have gone a counter attacking number seven in England’s batting order as his best Test score of 169 testifies.

Yet, on current evidence, he really should be at eleven, below Anderson.

Clearly his nerve has totally gone after being hit on the head a few years ago.

Earlier in this series, we saw him ducking so low in an attempt to avoid short pitched bowling he almost fell over.

In this game, his first innings dismissal was almost comical, as he backed away at least a yard from his stumps before offering a simple catch.

Today he looked as if he’d just received his ‘get out of jail’ card when the umpire raised his finger.

It’s not just an easy two wickets for a handful of runs that makes Broad’s batting a handicap.

It’s the lift it gives opposition bowlers.

When Broad comes to the wicket, the other side is already thinking about batting.

And that feeling spreads to the batsman at the other end. We’ve already seen a genuinely world class player in Johnny Bairstow throw his wicket away a couple of times because he is left with rabbits as a partner.

I have no such reservations about Anderson, who showed his physical courage today after being struck a sickening blow on his helmet.

He immediately got behind the ball and refused to give in.

More importantly, his bowling is still magnificent. He showed that yet again in the second innings at Adelaide and to a lesser extent in the second knock in this game.

The question for Anderson should not be whether to pick him again, but can they wrap him in enough cotton wool to keep him fit for a final Ashes hurrah?

Should we manage to do so – and it is a big ‘if’ considering Anderson’s injury record – England will have a much better chance of competing.

Cook’s form has worried me all year. Apart from one big innings against a poor West Indies side, he’s looked shaky and indecisive.

However this is the last time we need to be discarding a genuine Test opener.

It’s taken several false starts to unearth Mark Stoneman, who has shown the guts necessary to grind out runs at this level.

The chance of finding another in time for next summer’s visit of Pakistan and India is remote.

Cook’s future should be his own decision. Only he knows whether he was the mental gas in his tank to continue to shoulder the responsibility he has handled so stubbornly for years.

I’ve got to say, though, the thought of Cook opening in the first Test in 2019 will not cause Australia’s express trains too many sleepless nights.

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