Jonny Bairstow has launched a passionate defence of England bowler Stuart Broad ahead of the fourth Ashes Test match in Melbourne.
In the first three matches of the series, Broad took just five wickets and conceded the worst figures of his career in the demoralising defeat in Perth last week.
Former captain Michael Vaughan was among those to question Broad’s place in the side ahead of the final two matches of the Ashes and the tour of New Zealand in March.
But wicketkeeper-batsman Bairstow said: ‘Naturally, people will pick things apart when the team is not going well – but you have to remember those two guys are the most successful seam bowling partnership that’s ever played the game.
‘So you can say whatever you wish, but those guys have serious skills. Not just in England but all around the world.
‘You don’t take more than 900 Test wickets between you without having those skills.
‘To pick apart the bowling of someone who has played more than 100 Test matches after one or two games is pretty harsh.
‘People would do a lot better if they got behind the team.’
Despite reportedly struggling with a knee problem, Broad declared himself fit for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
But, writing in a column for the Daily Telegraph, Vaughan said: ‘If Stuart really does have a dodgy left knee, then do not play him.
‘Go into Melbourne without him or be brave enough not to pick him for the New Zealand tour if Joe Root believes he is not bowling well enough. Stuart has not bowled well all year.
‘Taking 25 wickets at nearly 40 is not good enough for Broad, particularly given some of the wickets he has bowled on.
‘He has not bowled in Australia to the standard he would have liked so maybe the call is to leave him out for a while.’
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