They were, both, a once-in-a-generation match. A once-in-a-generation innings. Only there were two. Within 42 days of each other, in fact. Perhaps it was fate, written in the stars. The answer to the great question of life, the universe and everything is, of course, 42. “42 days, in this instance,” said Douglas Adam’s supernatural computer, Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
Twenty-something Stuart Broad was all about the headlines. The eight-for at Trent Bridge, five-for-one at Newlands or dismantling India in Manchester. He formed a partnership with James Anderson that beat all that had gone before. There was always a sense, however, of Anderson as the reliable performer, Broad the young upstart, blowing hot, but occasionally cold.
The instinctive reaction was one of pity. A man doing his job, not particularly well, but doing it nonetheless. Umpire Joel Wilson struck a lonely figure in the middle of the vast expanse of Edgbaston, surrounded by a crowd known for its intensity and a press box notorious for its unforgiving nature. The less said about social media the better.