On Broad

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I feel a little bit sorry for Stuart Broad. So many of the big moments in his career have been overshadowed by something else or someone else.

Take his highest test score: that brilliant 169 against Pakistan at Lord’s. He played superbly in tandem with Jonathan Trott and unleashed a plethora of fluent and elegant drives. He was rapidly becoming one of the most attractive players to watch in the entire team, and people were talking about him becoming a genuine world-class all-rounder.

And then Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif, and Mohammad Amir had to go and ruin his moment.

It was a similar story last week in many ways. Broad didn’t take a hatful of wickets but managed to pass Sir Ian Botham’s 383 test scalps – thus becoming England’s second leading wicket taker of all time. It’s one hell of an achievement.

But instead of focusing on Broad, most observers focused on Alastair Cook’s runs, the West Indies’ ineptitude, and whether pink balls and day-night cricket were worth all the hype.

I’m not denying that Broad has had his moments. His 8-15 at Nottingham against Australia will live long in the memory (even though the pitch was a bit of a green top). Similarly I’ll never forget his 5-37 at The Oval back in 2009 – a brilliant performance that all but won the Ashes and really announced his arrival on the world stage. It was the first of many magical spells that Broad seems to produce from time to time.

The inescapable truth, however, is that Broad often doesn’t get the plaudits he deserves. Even though he’s taken nearly 400 wickets and played 107 test matches – an absolutely awesome achievement for any fast bowler – his milestones seem less special because his friend and teammate Jimmy Anderson got there first.

There’s also a lingering perception that Broad hasn’t been quite as consistent as he might. He’s obviously a world-class operator when on song, but there have also been times been he’s struggled for rhythm, hasn’t looked fully fit, and his pace has been down.

During England’s defeat to South Africa in 2012, Broad bowled 34 wicketless overs, conceded 118 runs, and looked like nothing more than a tall medium-pacer as Smith, Amla and Kallis amassed 637-2. There was little aggression, no movement, and no shortage of uncalled for snarling at fielders.

Broad’s batting, of course, has also become a big disappointment and a source of some disgruntlement amongst fans. Seeing a man who made 3 half-centuries in his first 9 tests (not to mention that glorious 169) backing away to leg with fear in his eyes is hard to watch.

Fans reach for their favourite betting app – the ladbrokes android app is one of the best out there – as soon as Broad walks to the crease these days. They know all too well that the next short ball is likely to bring a wicket.

Although that nasty blow to the head he suffered a couple of years ago would rattle most batsmen, it’s hard not to think what Broad the batsman could have been. In his early years he played just as attractively as his father at times. It seems such a waste.

Then there’s Broad’s limited overs career to consider. Although he hasn’t done badly at all in white ball cricket, 178 ODI wickets at 30 doesn’t quite do his considerable talents justice.

Some might think that England don’t pick Stuart in 50-over cricket because they’re saving him for test matches, but I’m not so sure. After all, he’s made it clear on several occasions that he wants to be part of Eoin Morgan’s squad.

What’s more, many people in India will always remember Broad for the savaging he once received from Yuvraj Singh. Being hit for six 6s in an over so publicly must have been humiliating. For all his achievements in red ball cricket, Broad will always have to bear this badge of dishonour.

And yet once again it wasn’t really his fault. Not for the first time Stuart was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yuvraj was so brilliant that day he might have taken Malcolm Marshall to the cleaners.

Broad the person has also split opinion. Even though he was England’s best performer on the disastrous Ashes tour of 2013/14, taking a highly creditable 21 wickets at 27.5 (and also making 155 runs), all everyone remembers is the bloody Brisbane Courier Mail and the Gabba boo boys.

What’s more, the tour was such a disaster from start to finish – with the aftermath also reaching farcical proportions – that Broad’s admirable performances have been completely forgotten. If you ask supporters to name one bright spot from that series they’ll invariably point to Ben Stokes’ hundred at Perth.

Our Stuart also managed to alienate some of his own supporters during the Pietersen ‘KP Genius’ affair. According to Alec Stewart, Broad was one of three players (alongside Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan) who had access to the notorious Twitter account. Allegedly the main perpetrator, a fan called Richard Bailey, was a mate of Broad’s. How awkward.

Despite all this, however, it’s indisputable that Broad has had an extremely fine career. He has been a fantastic cricketer for England and I suspect the team will miss him terribly when he hangs up his boots – which might not be for another two or three years if he’s managed properly and stays injury free.

Although he’ll probably never catch Anderson in the all-time leading wicket-taking table, I can see Broad finishing his career with something approaching 475 wickets. After all, he’s only just turned 31 years of age.

To put this in perspective, Darren Gough (who is one of my all time favourite England players) finished with 229 wickets. Andy Caddick, who was also a very good bowler for England, took 234. All three have similar averages for what it’s worth.

It will be interesting to see how Broad will go down English cricketing history. Will he be remembered as an all time England great? Personally I suspect not. Broad is a very good bowler – let’s not forget that he was briefly ranked No.1 in the world – but he doesn’t quite have the aura of an Anderson, a Botham, a Willis, or even a Gough.

If this really does become his legacy it would be typically unfortunate and harsh. After all, Broad has played in an era where bat has tended to dominate ball. Picking up test wickets at a price of 28 runs apiece is nothing to be sniffed at in modern times.

Perhaps, a bit like the aforementioned Kevin Pietersen, Broady will be remember as a cricketer who produced great performances rather than a truly great cricketer.

And given the allegedly acrimonious relationship between these two fine England players, wouldn’t that be deliciously ironic?

James Morgan 

Written in collaboration with realmoneycasinoapps.co.uk

About the author

James Morgan

James is a freelance copywriter, writer and author. He's a founder and co-editor of The Full Toss.

25 comments

  • There was a radio interview with Broad a while back where he talked about how as a newcomer to the team he was given the role of ‘enforcer’, and required to bowl a great deal shorter than he would have wished – something he felt held back his test bowling for some time.
    I forget much else about the interview, but recall his coming across as considerably more thoughtful and less boorish than some commentators have at times suggested.

    In any event, it gave an interesting perspective on the frequent complaints that England’s bowlers try to bowl too short.

    • Michael Vaughan once said that Broad was a joy to captain and one of the most thoughtful and intelligent bowlers he’d played with. Backs up your comment, Nigel.

      • outstanding article James, agreed with all of it. I know shocking isn’t it. But like you I am frustrated he hasn’t gone to be a great all rounder. I do think it was a bit silly of him to admit to having nightmares over his injury. Why give hungry quicks an insight into you psyche. Now he is almost half way off the pitch as the bowler runs up. As a bowler though, when he gets on one of those runs of his, he is quite unstoppable. But a very fine bowler indeed, and sad he has let his injury get the better of him mentally.

      • but I do have one little gripe about Broad. I find it a tad annoying that he never appeals for LBW by turning to the umpire. When ball hits pad he is off towards the slips and keeper, arm raised in triumph and then he belatedly turns to ask the question. He was awful at it early on and had to be spoken to about it. But it still looks a bit bad, but a minor gripe all the same

  • He went through a poor period when he imagined himself as “The Enforcer” and bowled exclusively short. Without that he might have already got to 400 test wickets. You can’t argue with his record, and he has bowled some wonderful spells, but I don’t think he has the craft of Anderson (who I first saw on TV in a Roses match, aged about 18, and thought “This lad is as good as anyone playing for England at the moment!”)

  • At the end of the SA series I did ask if teams batting second are winning less frequently than they used to. No-one was able to answer, so I’ll try again!

    • I’ve had a look, but can’t seem to find many stats. There are two things that probably support that though. There is a lot more test cricket now, and a lot more one sided test cricket.

    • This was brought up by the SKY pundits in the last SA test. Atherton I think it was, stated that indeed nowadays those batting second are winning less. As I am somewhat intellectually challenged I don’t know.

  • Something has definitely held Broad back with winning the plaudits of the fans and the media over the years and you’ve probably covered most of them.
    There’s no doubt in my mind he’s one of our greats, he’s part of probably our best new ball partnership since the 60’s and has won is a few matches with devastating spells. One you missed was the recent series winning 6/17 in Jo’Burg

    Plenty of Aussie followers rate him a lot higher than Anderson, but maybe they prefer Broads snarling to Jimmy’s muttering?

    I prefer Anderson purely because he’s an artist, and I was too late for Willis and only caught the end of Beefy, but Broads better than anyone else since.
    After him, Fraser, Gough, Caddick, Harmison & Hoggard all had moments but not as many as young master Broad.

    • Probably the best combination since Trueman and Statham (if not better) – though I don’t remember Statham ever bowling a bad ball (I wasn’t into my teens when I saw him, though!)

    • My perception (which may be wrong) is that Broad’s won one game in each of the last 3 Ashes series in England, and was the only senior player to stand up at all in the last series in Australia (he was pretty moderate with the ball after the first test and most of his runs came when standing at short leg, but he least came across as trying his utmost and hurt by what was happening around him) while Anderson has been generally ineffective in Australia bar one tour and no more than decent in England. Australians rate the person capable of the brilliant performance, particularly against Australia.

  • His Test batting average, whilst not exactly putting him in to the all rounder category, is quite respectable, and was much higher before the bang on the head.
    Broad and Anderson must be one of England’s best ever opening combinations in English conditions (sod Cardiff!)

    • As you said, ENGLISH conditions! Broad seems to have reduced the number of “valve” spells (they reduce pressure) he bowls over the years, and become an excellent new ball bowler. Can bat too, when the mood takes him. I would certainly take Broad to Aus, but I wonder whether Anderson should sit this one out. He had a good 2010/1 Ashes, but the other 2 series were poor (19 wickets in 8 tests at 54 each). I’d rather see some genuine pace in Aus (and Woakes and Broad can get what movement there is): so Wood and Plunkett would be a better option. I’d play Anderson in England any time, but he might want to limit his touring.

  • There is something about Stuart Broad that I have always liked. I seem to recall Strauss once saying that if he didn’t know what to do next he would ask Stuart Broad. I miss his exuberance when he is not playing. Jimmy is a supreme craftsman who carries with him a sense of awe. Not so much so, with Stuart. His mercurial flashes of genius seem to come from nowhere. They flash past us, almost like a shooting star. I don’t know how he does it, but one thing is for sure, he will be remembered for a very long time.

  • As so often with analysis of players it’s best left till they retire and we see what a hole in the team they leave. I also feel sorry for Broad, who has always been seen as Anderson’s partner rather than the other way round. However, once he gets on a roll there is no better bowler in world cricket. The problem in terms of public awareness is he goes through innocuous periods that Anderson doesn’t.
    The annoying thing about his career recently is the eclipse of his batting. He has to start getting into line again rather than backing away. A few years ago he was being talked of as an all rounder to rival Ian Botham.

  • Glad that there was something written about Broad too…finally.

    As an Indian, the match I remember about Broad from our perspective is not the WT20, but it’s the 2nd Test Match of the disastrous 2011 Series. England were 130 odd for 8 before Broad and Swann took them to 220, and when in response India were about 250 for 4, Broad came back and bundled us up for about 300. He also took a hattrick, I guess. That was the only match in that series that we had half decent chance of winning, but he spoiled it for the World No 1 Team at that time. He was the MOM too if I remember it right. Stuart Broad is alright.

    However, I still rate Anderson highly, though I hate him. Because Anderson seems to be a man smart enough to utilize 6 balls in the over to set up and batsmen and make him play the false shot. I don’t think any other bowler in the world currently does that, which makes JA a special bowler. Broad will always produce 8-15 at least once every year or two, winning matches on his own, but he will also have pretty ordinary days.

    The final analysis says it all. “Broady will be remember as a cricketer who produced great performances rather than a truly great cricketer.”

  • A good bowler, beyond a doubt, but I just cannot forgive him for his blatant failure to walk during that Ashes test – cheating, pure and simple. Re. his batting – the blow on the head did for it and made him into a walking wicket for anyone bowling short at him.

  • Perhaps if he wasn’t so petulant, demanding DRS every time the ball goes within a yard of the bat or stumps, I would have liked him more.

    It is remarkable he has taken so many wickets, given how inconsistent he has been. But as has been well documented, he has been capable of these magic spells, which is what has kept him in the team for so long.

    Best thing about him was the jumping up and down before he started a spell, although he seems to do that less and less now.

    Quite why people bang on about him in particular being a cheat because of Trent Bridge 2013 is beyond me. Most players don’t walk and even those that did such as Adam Gilchrist, would still appeal for absolutely everything when they were in the field, saying they had the right to ask the umpire to make a decision. Do people call Michael Vaughan a cheat for not calling Damien Martyn back after a woeful LBW decision in 2005? Or Dominic Cork for slyly putting the bail back on top of the stumps in 2000?

  • I hope that history is kinder to Broad than current opinions. I think he’s top drawer and when he’s on song, which is more often than not, he’s a joy to watch.

  • My respect for Broad has grown over the years. Saw him doing his enforcer thing at the Rosebowl and it was pathetic. Now I feel he runs in with a wicket taking ball in mind all the time. Admired his determination to turn out for Nottingham early season, while other test players put their feet up.

  • I find it quite staggering that anyone could query Broad’s place on the top table of English cricket. Over the years he has put in a number of match and series winning performances against the very best opposition whereas Anderson (whilst also an England great in his own right) has more regularly feasted on weaker opposition to massage his figures.

  • Some of the most devastating spells produced by an individual bowler in England colours. I reckon Broad’s spell at Joburg in January 2016 was superior to that at TB just a few months prior to then as it wasn’t such a green top. He’s had plenty apart from that as much discussed. When he really opens up he really is a joy to watch. Unfortunately the last 18 months or so I can’t help feeling that there are signs of decline, often not getting his pace up/not getting it right with the new ball that often.

    Maybe it’s a lull but his lack of 5 wicket hauls since that Joburg performance is a worry for me.

By James Morgan

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