THERE ARE times when watching a bowling spell by Stuart Broad is a bit like watching the Harry Enfield character Kevin the Teenager railing against the supposed injustices inflicted on him by his long-suffering parents.
“Kevin, clean your room, please.”
“Kevin, your room.”
“Kevin, we won’t tell you again.”
“Ugh, so unfair. You’re not my parents. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.”
Like the mardy sketch show character, Broad stomps around in a fit of pique whenever the cricketing gods conspire against him, throwing all manner of “I don’t believe this” and “for crying out loud” poses when things go wrong.
His sidekick James Anderson (or should that be Perry?) is just as surly; neither are predisposed to playing the game with a grin on their face.
Both, of course, are magnificent bowlers, and Broad, in particular, bowled very well on day two in Antigua, returning the standout figures of 3-42 from 28 overs.
It was a wonderfully whole-hearted effort, just as it was by Darren Bravo of the West Indies, who fought through to 33 at stumps from 165 balls to leave his team 272-6 in reply to England’s first innings 187, well-placed to go 2-0 up in the three-match series.
Back in the England team after being dropped in Barbados, to which he reflected in his newspaper column, “I’m bowling the best I’ve ever bowled. Everyone in this England group knows it too”, Broad was a man with a point to prove.
He had bowled okay on the first evening, through seven wicketless overs for 10 runs, but he was at his best on the second morning, although frustrated by an absence of luck.
During an all-action five-over burst that somehow failed to produce a wicket one did not need a degree in lip-reading or body language to deduce that Broad was not chuffed by a succession of plays-and-misses, close shaves, one overturned dismissal and a dropped catch.
Why, it was clear in every mumbled expletive, head-in-hands gesture, exaggerated open-mouthed stare of total astonishment, sledge, snarl and contemptuous gaze; he could not have looked more fed up had word arrived from England that his house had burned down.
After the West Indies resumed on 30-0, Broad almost took a wicket with the day’s sixth ball, Kraigg Brathwaite flicking just short of square-leg Keaton Jennings, a substitute fielder for wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, whose bruised right hand saw Jonny Bairstow continue behind the stumps.
In Broad’s next over, John Campbell was adjudged caught in the slips, but reprieved when replays showed that the ball had come off his arm rather than his bat.
By now Stuart was most definitely stewing, more so when Campbell edged to third slip where Jos Buttler grassed a simple opportunity. More misery followed when Campbell top-edged a hook that mockingly landed between a sprinting Bairstow and an in-rushing Moeen Ali just behind square.
On a pitch that remained difficult for batting, Campbell made 47 before edging the excellent Ben Stokes to Buttler at second slip. It was the first wicket that England had taken for 101 overs, including Barbados, and it was followed by a comical concession of four overthrows by Broad off Anderson, which, remarkably, drew a rueful smile from the former and no significant chuntering from the latter.
Not until the second session did Broad gain reward, striking twice in four balls after Moeen had Brathwaite caught at short-leg for 49. First Shai Hope edged behind a leg-cutter before Broad bowled Roston Chase with a delivery that kept so low that it practically travelled underground.
Anderson judged a fine catch off Ali running in from long-off to dismiss Shimron Hetmyer, who had been dropped off Anderson by a diving Rory Burns at cover.
Buttler dropped another slip chance off Broad after tea, reprieving Bravo on 20, but the pair did combine when Shane Dowrich got one that reared up off a length to end a stand of 50 with the disciplined Bravo.