If someone had told Stuart Broad after the 2007 World T20 where he conceded 6 sixes in an over against India that 13 years later he would hit the milestone of 500 Test wickets, he would have dismissed it as a joke. But Broad has proven everyone and himself wrong, and those 6 sixes were more due to Yuvraj Singh’s brilliance than him being any lesser bowler.
Over the years, Broad and James Anderson have formed a lethal pace bowling pair in Test cricket who have combined to catapult England to No 1 rank in Test cricket briefly after demolishing India 0-4 in the Test series in 2011. The belief was that if Anderson does not get you, Broad will. Broad took 25 wickets in the four-match Test series as Indian batsmen were simply blown away.
While Anderson relies more on line and length, Broad’s strength is swing bowling and he exploits England conditions to the maximum. It explains his maximum wickets from edges behind the wickets. He has an envious record at home, averaging 25.71, and taking 327 wickets in 80 Tests, compared to an average of 32.66, with 160 wickets from 55 Tests away.
He reserves his best for Australia for obvious reasons. He handed the Aussies a humiliation when he took 8/15 to bowl them out for just 60 in 18.3 overs in his home ground at Trent Bridge in 2015 Ashes series.
Just like how a batsman is known for his exploits on the cricket field in the fourth innings, a bowler is known for his performance in the first innings when the pitch is generally conducive for batting unless the conditions are too favorable for bowling. He averages 26.76 in 61 first innings, his second-best among all innings. His average in the fourth innings is the best – 24.94 – in 55 innings.
He makes a great contribution in won matches for England. He averages 20.51 in 65 innings for England, taking 281 wickets in 65 won matches.
He also has had the potential to turn into a quality all-rounder, having played some brilliant cameos lower down the order, to rescue his team from a precarious position on numerous occasions. But he has always flattered to deceive, so any runs from his bat are considered as a bonus now, while he remains as a front-line bowler for England. For the record, Broad has a century and 15 fifties to his credit in Test cricket.
While Anderson is struggling as he is already in the prime of his career, Broad has been going strength from strength at 34, and looks good to serve England for a few more years, and erase the humiliation of conceding six sixes for good in his early part of his career.
Photo courtesy: Stuart Broad's Facebook page