Opinion: The case for Broad as Test skipper

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In the likely event of our cricketing summer perpetuating the trend for tits to go up – both with Team England and cosmetic surgery – it might be worth speculating as to who might take over the captaincy.

An air of courtly intrigue has hung around the ECB these last few months. You may have noticed. In fact, there's been more chicanery than at the annual convention of the World Federation of Motor-Racing Circuit Designers.

Highlights: Paul Downton being admonished for breaching the terms of the ECB's 'settlement agreement' with KP in an extraordinary interview on the BBC; Pietersen himself, fast becoming a popular martyr, hiding his public image behind said agreement; the ever-feckless James Whitaker, forever trawling his managerialist vocabulary for some robust term moving forward (and how he liked to move forward as a one-Test wonder), has the unmistakable air of some Tory Junior Minister about to be caught up in a sex scandal, and showed it at the infamous, bumbling press conference to announce KP's exclusion from England's plans.

And then, fresh from visiting Allen Ponzi-Stanford in the pen', there's Giles Clarke, a man who knows the type of family that needs to skipper England, so much so that the guidelines laid down for future captains' vetting procedure now includes ideological background checks on the candidates' kin, just to ensure they're free market capitalists.

That's free market in the sense of three big institutions having secret talks and carving up a world game in mutually agreeable fashion while holding a gun to the minnows' heads. Minnows like West Indies, Pakistan and South Africa, who've produced almost no brilliant cricketers between them over the thirty years I've been watching the game and as such deserve to skulk around in the second tier.

So, the ECB are doing fine. Moving forward.

And then there's Alastair Cook, who may or may not have been a prime mover in ousting KP and impressing upon the aforementioned grands fromage that a fresh start was needed. A fresh start, that is, in which he remains as captain. In both formats of the game, the one that he's quite good at as a batsman, and the one that he's not so good at as a batsman. Which is not even to mention his captaincy.

Anyway, making runs is only one source of a captain's authority – ultimately the least important at that. Far more significant is getting the most out of the combined talents of the team, both tactically and man-managerially.

Fair to say that, after a tour to Australia that yielded one victory in thirteen international matches, Captain Cook now needs to dispel the gnawing feeling that he inherited the tactical conservatism of the Andys yet without Strauss's oratory skills – indeed, words come tumbling out of Cook's mouth like knickers from a broken suitcase – and soft-touch superintendence.

In the likely event of our cricketing summer perpetuating the trend for tits to go up – both with Team England and cosmetic surgery – it might be worth speculating as to who might take over the captaincy.

As I see it, there would be four candidates from the senior players: James Anderson, Matt Prior, Ian Bell and Stuart Broad. Anderson has informal experience as Leader of the Bowling Attack and could probably be trusted to wear the blazer with panache, but he too is no inspirational speaker. Then there's Prior…

Oh you know what, I can't be bothered to go through it. The captain should be Broad. His family is impeccable – indeed, father Chris is a keen adherent to the Spirit of Cricket, what with it being his job to uphold it and all – and his cricketing credentials aren't too shabby.

If that's not enough, there's a certain Master Race disposition to him, physically and attitudinally. (No, I'm not suggesting he's an actual Nazi, either in his private beliefs or in the regalia he sometimes ventures out to obscure car-booters to buy.)

He's also a 'shit bloke' AKA nuggety competitor. Sure, he may not like it up him. He got into some odd positions last winter just as Mitchell Johnson let go of the ball (a sure sign that, if not on the run, he was on the hop), while Ryan Harris excised him from the crease at Durham last summer with a brutal, on-the-money surprise bouncer offering almost no 'tell' on length.

But I don't think the fact that Broady is out of his comfort zone with these bowlers (join the club!) compromises his masculinity at all, and thus the (waxed) chest-beating support he could expect from his charges.

Further, he speaks very clearly and with great specificity about his bowling. This lucidity undeniably helps him operate in a streetwise manner as a bowler. A good problem-solver – a man who both follows and abandons hunches – suggests good captaincy material.

An example: In the Twenty20 international against West Indies at Trent Bridge in 2012, Steven Finn, then a world star in the shortest format, opened the bowling to Chris Gayle, probably the world's most feared T20 batsman at the time, if not still.

England started with a 6-3 field, including men at third man and long leg. Finn's first bumper was a bit tennis-bally, so Broad moved square leg to short fine leg while long leg swung round to deep square leg. Finn bowled another bumper, which this time really zipped through.

Broad saw enough evidence in that solitary ball to immediately reverse his hunch – which takes some flexibility in your thinking – and, sure enough, Gayle top-edged a ball that got too big on him to Bairstow (England's most mobile fielder) at long leg. This probably won England the game.

It's only one small example but it is illustrative all the same. The overall effect, by accretion, of such moments is an increased trust heading toward blind loyalty. If players think you can pull rabbits from hats, then there'll be what my sworn enemies might call 'maximum buy-in'.

Yes, Broad had less joy in this year's World T20, where he was accused by Martin Crowe of hiding in the middle overs and allowing Dernbach to take the flak. Maybe. But there's nothing inspirational about your leader getting tanked – and he may be carrying some scarring from Yuvi in Durban, of course – so if he's not the right bowler for that job, technically and tactically, then that's that.

But let there be little doubt that Broad has the appetite for the hard yards. Fast bowling is hard, hard work and, whether bowling well or indifferently, he rarely lets his body language drop. Ahmedabad, Cook's first game as skipper, was one of the very few times his shoulders have sagged, which is yet another important trait of leadership.

You couldn't pick him solely for his captaincy, of course. His best ball remains a good ball. His best spells win Test matches. He doesn't get it right often enough to be considered a truly great bowler, and injuries would suggest he'll struggle to achieve that now, but he could recoup this diminishing contribution with captaincy.

It would certainly help him not to be the man trying to be first into the opposition's citadel. With Liam Plunkett (or Ben Stokes or Chris Woakes) as a bowling all-rounder, and Jordan (or eventually Finn)

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