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Stuart Broad – A Rookie to a Journeyman to a Veteran

The scene of Stuart Broad getting smashed for six sixes is what comes to our mind when we see him in the middle. Undoubtedly it was a massive blow for the rookie Broad by that time to take the dreadful memory back to the dressing room.

Too young to get beaten hard but wasn’t too immature to get defeated in mind.

The limelight fell upon Stuart Broad by that night he was demolished but in a wrong way. Everyone was eager to know what he could do after the humiliating incident.

But Broady overcame the destruction with a handful of wickets in the next series he played on the flat wickets of Sri Lanka. From then on, the fight to erase the image of six sixes started to craft him into a scripture.

“A year after that was the six sixes. How does anyone possibly deal with being put through that in a global tournament? That would be the end for 50% of players, another 45% would fade away, and 5% would come out even stronger. That is what Stuart did.” – Jeremy Snape, Former England cricketer.

The Journeyman arrived at the Headingley 

The fourth Ashes Test in 2009 revealed the Test cricket that lurks inside the Malfoy of the English team. Even though it was a match to forget for the English team, it was the first impression Broad was able to make in the bigger stage of the parent format of cricket. 

The expensive six-wicket haul of Broad converted him into a journeyman, who started to register his name hither and thither. 

Right from that Headingley match, Broad’s confidence got boosted, and his body language started to have a mojo. As a testament to the change in approach, the Nottingham bowler picked his next five-for in the very next match, aiding his team to win. And his success rate continued to flourish in Test cricket.

The seamer

What makes Broad so unique in Test cricket is the line he bowls. His intention to hit the stump line, accompanied by his natural nip towards the batsmen, makes him lethal. 

Wrist work is firmly done to set the wobbled seam towards the batter. Still, there is no answer found in the batsmen’s mind for the bewildering Broad’s deliveries that nip back in as soon as the ball is pitched. 

More than anything, the length he chooses to bowl his wobbled seamers makes the batsmen startle in the middle.

Since the Nottinghamshire fast bowler is stupendous with his scrambled seam, the way the ball would behave depends on the landing part of the ball on the turf.

After pitching with that kind of seam, the ball can either cut in or stick with the same line or move away from the batter, who knows? Even Broady won’t know the answer. 

Moreover, the wobbled seam is why we are witnessing abnormal bounce in Broad’s deliveries when he hits the deck. 

With the seam movement, Broad relentlessly raises the questions for the batsmen; which one to shoulder arms and which one to tap? 

“He’s now getting the ball to shape away again. We’ve seen how lethal he is with that wobble seam that nips back and hits batsmen on the pads. It’s incredible to watch and a real inspiration, not just for the younger members of the team but for me, seeing someone like Stuart work as hard as he has, and deal with the things that he’s had to deal with over the last few years.” – James Anderson on Stuart Broad’s success against Windies in 2020.

When the seam work was learned to move the ball away from the right-handers, Broady became even more vulnerable to the batters. 

Especially for the left-handers, from over the wicket, he has got both the way swinging options. If it wasn’t doing much inwards from over the wicket, Broad had another option of coming wide from around the wicket to angle the ball towards the stumps guarded by lefties. From the left-handers’ point of view, facing Broad is like facing two different bowlers of the same name. 

This is a rare bowling skill you could find from a bowler who can adjust his shoulder and wrist to get the perfect angle to knock down from both sides of the pitch. 

Being tall and more comfortable with his short stride makes the English seamer a surprise package in bowling. 

The Historical Nottingham Test 

The crafted seam bowling gets its reward in the bigger stage in 2015.

The historical spell that fetched eight wickets in an innings against Australia sets the Nottingham pacer the first step to become a veteran of the gentlemen game. 

The Australians were clueless by that morning. They merely spend time in the middle to realise which ball is coming in and which is going away. 

“You talk of great spells, you talk of Bob Willis in 1981, you talk of some of the spells Darren Gough bowled, and Andrew Flintoff bowled. I think this (Broad’s 8 for 15) is going to be right at the top of the list,” said Michael Vaughan at the end of the spectacular day 1 of the Nottingham Test match 2015.

On witnessing the stunning performances of Broad in Tests, the ECB indeed type-casted Broad to become an out and out Test bowler.

Even though Stuart Broad wasn’t interested in his omission in the ODI squad, the decision aided Broad to focus more on the behaviour of the red cherry

ECB’s foresaw got its reward with their successful home Test cricket in the following years. The swing and seam movement of the duo (Anderson-Broad) became even more potent, and they are still daunting for other Test cricketing nations. 

The David Warner – Stuart Broad clash

Later in 2019, the way Broad discomforted David Warner during the Ashes series was otherworldly. No other batter would have liked to be in the shoes of David Warner by that time. 

We all know how dangerous David Warner is. Most importantly, the quickness he would find to score runs, makes him a deadly customer for the opposition team.

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But the Australian opener had no way of defending the typical Broad-way of bowling. 7 out of 10 innings Warner had to walk back because of the wobbled seam presentation of Stuart Broad. 

“I’m someone who takes a lot of pride in getting a top-four batsman out because I see that as my job, trying to set the innings up by removing batsmen as early as I can. And I just decided I was going to try and hit the stumps every ball, that was my mindset. I’m not going to try and swing it away from him, because I think that gave him a bit of width. I’m just going to try and scramble the seam, and if he hits it straight back past me for four, I’m happy. I probably ended up bowling a bit fuller than I’d planned to, but it worked.”

Right from the beginning, Broad has been a wicket-taker. A bowler who runs in every time expecting a wicket. And that right intention of a Test bowler made him the seventh bowler in the history of Test cricket to reach the 500 wickets mark. 

Mark Wood, the current teammate of Stuart Broad, once said :

“The word ‘legend’ gets used a lot, but in this case, it rings true. Stuart Broad is a legend.”

What we inspire from this legend is the commitment he shows towards the game. 

The way he reacted and performed in the second and final Test match against Windies recently, after getting dropped from the first Test match shows the strong fighting character of Stuart Christopher John Broad. 

Stuart Broad, the Talisman of England cricket team

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