Even when he was a schoolboy Stuart Broad had the look, the bowling action and the pace to hint that he might be a Test cricketer before long.
By the time he was 21 he was hustled into the England side against Sri Lanka in Colombo, handed the new ball and relied on to dismiss the best of the opposition batsmen. Skipper Michael Vaughan said he was the best young thinker he had ever met.
A year ago he was the poster boy for England, prominent in advertisements on his own behalf and for the team. A glorious future stretched ahead as he became captain of the England T20 team, the paceman his captain called on when the going got tough and the batsman we dreamed might hit his side out of trouble.
He came from a sporting family; his father had opened the innings for England and at 6ft 6in and slim as an propelling pencil Stuart looked the part and, polite yet able to talk when the moment demanded it, he had the personality to be a captain of the Test side.
Now, suddenly, there is a frown on the face of national selector Geoff Miller when he addresses the question of Broad’s future.
The simple fact is that there seems to be no permanent cure for a niggling heel injury despite the full gamut of treatment, encouragement and the purchase of special equipment. Still there is no sign he is going to play for England before the tour of New Zealand next month.
Is the trouble Broad’s over-enthusiastic bowling or the England and Wales Board’s desire for him to play every day of the year?
Broad is not the only all-rounder – interestingly he lists himself as a bowler and his run totals and averages are considerably lower than you might expect of a 26-year-old who aims to bat and bowl – to suffer on the remorseless treadmill that is modern international cricket.
He has taken 172 Test wickets at 31.93, 148 in one-day games and another 48 in T20 matches. His batting does not rate alongside his bowling: 1612 runs at 26 in Tests, 415 at 12.57 in ODIs and just 66 in the frantic heave-ho of T20. Sometimes his bowling is magnificent; too often his batting is unworthy of him.
The non-stop dollops of touring, airport to hotel, practice, matches, back to the hotel and onto the airport have cut short the careers of more than one promising young player and particularly the fast bowler who is expected to bat for long periods and field either in the deep or close to the wicket.
Tests, one-day internationals and now T20 matches may seem a joy ride to those who only sit and watch and occasionally, either write 1,000 words or applaud a maiden over but for an oversize cricketer like Broad there is a punishing schedule.
Add to the physical activity the constant attention from press and spectators, from former captains on the TV gantry and, not least, from 15-20 cameras, it is clear that there is both pressure and strain.
Tense up with the thought “I wonder what Nasser Hussain is saying about that last wide” and you may find yourself with a hamstring problem. No I am not kidding. It happens.
Hence all the talk of rotation, of taking even more players on tour, of even more physical preparation ahead of both home series and tours abroad, of greater attention to diet and warm-up, to specialist bowling coaches and to the need for captains to go easy on their quick bowlers even when the tension demands those super athletes of the Test team give maximum effort.