Stuart Broad: ‘The 100th will be a special cap’

Stuart Broad is all set to join a small band of 13 England cricketers who have crossed the magic mark of 100 Tests for their country. It’s a miniscule number considering that 673 cricketers have played for England ever since it clashed against Australia in Melbourne in March 1877.

The 30-year-old made his Test debut against Sri Lanka in Colombo in December 2007 and nine years later he’s virtually the England spearhead in the absence of James Anderson.   -  K.R. Deepak

Stuart Broad is all set to join a small band of 13 England cricketers who have crossed the magic mark of 100 Tests for their country. It’s a miniscule number considering that 673 cricketers have played for England ever since it clashed against Australia in Melbourne in March 1877. The 30-year-old made his Test debut against Sri Lanka in Colombo in December 2007 — when he shared the new ball with Ryan Sidebottom and got the wicket of Chaminda Vaas — and nine years later he’s virtually the England spearhead in the absence of James Anderson.

The Broad-Anderson pair has scalped 507 wickets together in 65 matches and are the world’s most success new ball-bowling partners ahead of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis (53 Tests, 497 wkts), Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh (49 Tests,421 wkts) and England’s previous best pair of Freddie Trueman and Brain Statham (35 Tests, 284 wkts).

Broad has been highly successful against India with 46 wickets at 23.35, but in India he has a paltry two wickets at 145.50 in the three Test matches he has played.

Broad is thrilled that he will soon belong to the special club. “I am aware how special an achievement it is because of the players that have come before me. The amount they have given to English cricket, it’s a special cap to receive. Actually, I think, what excites me more is this 100th game being the start of a huge series for us as well. There is no bigger occasion than starting a series in India, against the No.1 team in the world. It’s great to get a milestone being in such an important game because we know how vital it is to start these tours well.’’

Broad, who is the son of former England opener Chris Broad, who is also an ICC Match Refree, said playing 100 Test matches is always a dream: “Isn’t it? To play as much as possible for your country. There’s not many of those with Test caps of 100 below the three lines. A player will be special to receive such a cap. I will say my character has always been someone who likes being in big games. I think it’s something that makes extra special, having a 100th game at the start of such a big series.”

Has he been a different bowler without Anderson to share the new ball with? “I don’t think I have been a different bowler with Jimmy not in the side. With Jimmy I communicate really well; we talk about conditions, talk about the ball, talk about reverse swing, the new batsman coming in. When Jimmy is not in the side, I find it a bit more forceful with the communication, make sure the bowling unit is sharing as much as possible because if you go quiet as a bowling unit, you are not working together.

“It is much harder to get those 10 wickets in an innings. You have to always share how you are seaming the ball, how you are swinging the ball, if the leg-cutters are working, show which one gets the ball reversing quickly, bowl cross-seamers. I think our team has always taken for granted that Jimmy and I always talk. So when Jimmy is not in the team, we make sure sharing information a lot more.”

Talking about the five-Test series he said: “The advantage of a five-match series is that you do get a lot of time to learn from experience. It was four the last time around and we lost the first one (Motera). But learned so much in those conditions, took that forward and won the next two and drew the last one. So in a five-match series, you have a chance to make a mistake, if that makes sense. Like we did last time, India beat us at Lord’s and we won the last three Test matches to win the series.

“So, it does really give you a chance to assess conditions and get used to them a lot. But the downside is you play five Test matches in six weeks. If you are not in the eleven, if you are not playing, it doesn’t give you lot of opportunities to play cricket elsewhere, does it?”

Finally Broad said that he’s not really keen to be called an all-rounder: “I have always seen myself as a frontline seamer. My dream is to try and get the new ball for England because that’s when you become more of a strike bowler, that’s the best chance to make impact on games. I am only 30. I hope to play for a long time. I certainly want to have the opportunities to score a lot more runs, and hopefully that will come in the series. It is something I see as a momentum change rather than somebody who is going to have some big numbers behind them.”

England 100 Test club: Alistair Cook 135, Graham Gooch 118, Alec Stewart 133, David Gower 117, Kevin Pietersen 104, Geoff Boycott 108, Michael Atherton 115, Ian Bell 118, Colin Cowdrey114, Andrew Strauss 100, Graham Thorpe 100, Ian Botham 102, Jimmy Anderson 119.