Stuart Broad has spent most of his career in the shadow of James Anderson, but consistent performances over the years have seen him grow in stature to be considered one of the best bowlers ever to represent England. One such performance in Johannesburg last week dethroned South Africa from the No. 1 ranking in Test cricket and also took him to the top position in the bowlers’ rankings.
Wisden India looks at Broad’s best over the years, mostly with the ball, but occasionally with the bat as well.
Broad’s best effort in Test cricket came at the perfect time for England, who led the series 2-1 going. In a span of just 94 minutes, Broad brought Australia’s Ashes hopes crashing down with a spell of 8 for 15 that blasted away the visitors for just 60 runs in 18.3 overs on the first morning of the game. It was Australia’s seventh-lowest score in Test cricket.
Broad set the tone with the wickets of Chris Rogers (his 300th Test wicket) and Steven Smith in the first over and didn’t look back. One after another, Australia’s batsmen arrived at the crease, only to edge Broad to the slip cordon. Australia couldn’t recover, and ultimately conceded the urn following an innings-and-78-run loss.
After scores of 232, 207 and 213 in the first three innings, New Zealand were set a target of 239 to achieve with more than a day and a half left. As the scores suggest, the honours were more or less even going into the final innings but Broad changed that in quick time, making light work of New Zealand’s batting line-up. He bowled 11 straight overs, running through the visitors to shoot them out for just 68 in 22.3 overs as England won by 170 runs.
The most recent of Broad’s wonders with the ball. Only 10 runs separated the two teams after the first innings and the match seemed in the balance, until Broad took over. He got all of South Africa’s top five batsmen, including Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, in a space of five overs to have the hosts reeling at 35 for 5 in their second dig. Broad added one more to his tally later, and South Africa were eventually shot out for 83 – their lowest score at home. The target of 74 did not take much effort and England derailed South Africa from the top of the Test rankings.
Broad wreaked havoc on the first day of the Test and pushed India to a corner from where they could never bounce back. Along with Anderson, Broad reduced India to 8 for 4 in five overs after the visitors had opted to bat. A mini recovery via Mahendra Singh Dhoni and R Ashwin ensued but Broad returned later to run through the lower order, bowling India out for 152. England eventually went to win by an innings and 54 runs, taking a 2-1 lead in the series.
It seems hard to believe now, considering the manner in which India lost all four Tests of the 2011 England tour, but for a major part of the second Test, the visitors were well and truly on top. But every time India threatened to run away with the game, Broad stopped them, first with the bat and then the ball. Batting first, England were reeling at 124 for 8 before Broad launched a counter-attack to push England’s score to 221. India, however, regained the advantage with Rahul Dravid’s century taking them to 267 for 4. But that changed in no time as Broad ran through the middle and lower orders with a stunning spell that included his first Test hat-trick with the wickets of Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar. India were rolled over for 288, after which England went on to win by a massive 319 runs. It set the tone for the rest of the series.
The biggest stage for an England cricketer is an Ashes Test, and Broad certainly loves that. He was at it at Chester-le-Street once again in 2013 to help England seal the series with a match haul of 11 wickets. First, his 5 for 71 helped England restrict Australia’s first-innings lead to 32. Then, he picked six in the second innings to derail Australia’s chase. Set a target of 299, Australia were coasting at 168 for 2 before Broad ran through them to bowl them out for 224. Broad got six wickets in one spell and Australia lost nine wickets in a session to lose by 74 runs.
It was yet another five-wicket haul and yet another Ashes-delivering victory. The series was level at 1-1 going into the final Test, which England had to win to get back the urn. Australia were coasting along at 73 for no loss in reply to England’s first-innings score of 332 before Broad turned the tables in dramatic style. In a spell of 12 consecutive overs, Broad picked up Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin to leave Australia wobbling at 111 for 7. The visitors ultimately managed just 160 and ended up losing by 197 runs.
The match was evenly poised and headed towards a draw going into the final day. South Africa has posted 419 in the first innings to which England replied with 425. South Africa’s top order did well once again to take them to 209 for 3 before Broad suddenly induced interest in the game with a spell of five wickets in 6.1 overs. The visitors were bowled out for 258, setting England a target of 253 from 39 overs to square the series. However, they managed just 130 for 4 as the match ended in a draw.
Broad’s contributions to England doesn’t end with his heroics with the ball. Many a time, he has done his bit with the bat as well. One such occasion was the final Test against Pakistan, with the series standing 2-1 in favour of England. Opting to field, Pakistan had England in deep trouble at 102 for 7 before a miraculous knock from Broad and a record partnership with Jonathan Trott (184) revived their innings. The pair added 332 for the eighth wicket to power England to 446, from where they won by an innings and 225 runs to seal the series 3-1. It could have been a lot different if not for Broad’s heroics with the bat.