Broom looks to sweep clean in long-awaited test debut

Times Media


TELFORD VICE in Wellington

NEIL Broom glanced over his shoulder towards the Basin Reserve pitch where he is set to make his test debut for New Zealand in the second match of their series against South Africa on Thursday.

“Yeah, it looks pretty green,” said the batsman who is odds on to replace Ross Taylor, who tore a calf while batting in the drawn first test in Dunedin.

Green? Not just any green: try Kryptonite green.

The 70 millimetres of rain that fell in Wellington from Friday to Monday kept the pitch under cover, and while Tuesday was cloudy but mostly dry more rain is forecast for Wednesday.

So discerning the finally uncovered pitch from the outfield on Tuesday was about as straightforward as telling Hamish Marshall from John Marshall – the identical twins from Auckland who, between them, earned 20 test caps for New Zealand in the first decade of the century.   

Broom, who made his first-class debut at the Basin Reserve in 2002-03, played against the Marshalls for Otago in a career that has taken more than its share of twists and turns. 

“It’s been 135 first-class games so it’s been a long time but it’s finally here. Or hopefully, anyway.”

Actually, it’s been 136 first-class games. But it seemed rude to argue with an “old” oke.   

“I’m nearly 34 now, so I’m looking forward to getting out there and giving it a good crack,” Broom said.

His British passport paved the way for him to sign a contract with Derbyshire, which he terminated in December when New Zealand picked him for a one-day series against Bangladesh, also to replace an injured Taylor.

“It’s been an interesting summer,” Broom said.

“I started out as an Englishman and now I’m playing a test for New Zealand.

“It’s pretty crazy.

“I’ll sit down at the end of the summer and hopefully take it all in.”

Broom won’t want to take in some of what happened the last time New Zealand and South Africa played a test at the Basin Reserve.

Hashim Amla needed surgery after being struck in the groin by Chris Martin on the first day.

That was before Morne Morkel broke Taylor’s arm.

And then Kane Williamson had his box shattered by Dale Steyn.

“I’ve got a titanium box, so that should do the job,” Broom said when reminded of the latter.

Not that he isn’t versed in tangling with South Africa’s fast bowlers.

“I remember facing (Morne) Morkel and (Vernon) Philander on an emerging players tour over in Australia,” Broom said.

“It was about 10 years ago now.”

That was in July 2007, when Broom was dismissed by Philander in three of four innings.

“It was pretty tough then and it will probably be another step up now,” Broom said.

“They’re two great bowlers and on a pitch that looks like that they’ll be even tougher.

“I managed to bust my ribs; that’s what I remember about it.

“I got a few ticklers up there; (Morkel) gets a bit of bounce.”

The Basin Reserve hasn’t been the happiest hunting ground for Broom in first-class cricket.

He has reached 50 in only two of his 18 innings at a venue where he averages 27.37: his lowest at any ground where he has played at least five innings.

But, as he said, “If I’ve ever been ready to play test cricket it should be now.”

Years ago, he was a promising prospect in the game New Zealanders play better than anyone else.

In fact, he featured in the same Christchurch Boys’ High XI and XV as Dan Carter, who went on to All Black stardom.

“Seems like a long time ago now that I’ve made that decision to play cricket, but I think I’ve made the right one,” Broom said.

“I don’t know how I would have got on in the oval-ball game.

“It used to bug me a wee bit, but now I suppose I’ve got kids and I can relive my footy days through them.”

For now, the kids will be shouting for dad.

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