Flower benefits by backing Broad
Stuart Broad made good on his promise, when it mattered most, to take a stack of wickets in this summer's Ashes - as befits a bowler Andy Flower is prepared to rank alongside some of cricket's greatest.
Before Broad's 11 wickets at Chester-le-Street - including his match-winning sequence of six for 20 in 45 balls, as England clinched the Ashes for a third successive time on Monday - he had taken only six in the previous three Investec Tests.
He endured more than 50 overs without success, in fact, at Emirates Old Trafford between his 199th and 200th Test victims, but Broad confided in coach Flower that, even when those yards were at their hardest, he was in the form to come up with one of the irresistible spells on which he has made his reputation.
So it was Monday night, just as it had been against Australia when England clinched the urn on home soil at The Oval on the back of Broad's first-innings five for 37, that he provided the telling impetus as the tourists subsided to defeat by 74 runs.
"He came up to me at Old Trafford and said 'I think I'm going to be in for a haul of wickets soon'," said Flower. "That was because he hadn't had a lot go his way, and I agreed with him."
With or without his Durham heroics, Flower acknowledges Broad bears comparison with the best exponents of his trade down the years.
He deserves mention in the same breath as Pakistan pair Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, or two other great tall bowlers in West Indies' Curtly Ambrose and Australia's Glenn McGrath - all of whom Flower had to contend with in his playing days.
He added: "I think it would be fair to place him with those kind of great bowlers, who could change a game with one spell. It is what the crowds remember and it is thrilling to watch."
Flower is confident there is more to come too, adding: "Don't forget, he is only 27. He still has many more years ahead of him, fitness permitting, and I expect him to have many more days like this.
"He already has over 200 Test wickets - which is some achievement at his age - and he thinks about the game very well too."
Broad has obvious physical attributes, and mental ones too which have become apparent to Flower.
"He's 6ft 6in and he bowls in the high 80s," Flower said. "When the ball is moving sideways, and he is hitting his lengths, he has a very difficult combination for any batsman to face.
"Once that ball started reverse-swinging, it changed the complexion of the game. He'd had a quiet series wickets wise, but he's done this before - where he has bowled pretty well but doesn't get the rewards.
"When you are doing the right things then you do get the rewards ultimately, and I think he has been doing the right things this series."
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