Broadly speaking!

Broad signsa replica of the Ashes urn for a fan.-REUTERS

At Trent Bridge in the fourth Test, on a helpful pitch, Stuart Broad’s brisk, accurate and controlled bowling — mostly outswing but with a rare devastating inswinger — dissected the Australia batting with the precision of a heart surgeon who knows that one slip will bring disaster. By Ted Corbett.

Is there a finer sight among male, able-bodied sportsmen than the England all-rounder Stuart Broad, still only 29, with 308 Test wickets to his name already and the prospect that one day soon he may take the captaincy if for any reason Alastair Cook has to step down?

Watch Broad at the start of his run to the wicket. He checks his feet, he makes sure the batsman is ready and then he leans his slim 6ft 5in body forward and he’s off.

From that moment he is a force of nature, a startled chital with the scent of the tiger in his nostrils, a greyhound which spots the lure.

What follows is one of the most beautiful sights in a game which offers many such delights to the knowledgeable spectator. No effort appears to be involved as he lengthens his stride until the final leap that sends the ball at around 83 miles an hour towards the batsman.

Once Broad aimed for much higher speeds but in a recent interview he revealed that after constant criticism he decided to cut down his pace, to give the ball the chance to swing and be content to take wickets at medium pace rather than cause ripples of fear ten miles an hour quicker.

At Trent Bridge in the fourth Test, we could see exactly what he meant. On a helpful pitch, his brisk, accurate and controlled bowling — mostly outswing but with a rare devastating inswinger — dissected the Australia batting with the precision of a heart surgeon who knows that one slip will bring disaster.

It was beautiful to watch: a sportsman, an artist and a thinking athlete going about his business with confidence and assurance as he reduced his opponents to a quivering jelly before they joined the fight. Not that there was much fight. Australia were bowled out by lunch on the first day and, frankly, the game was won in those first two hours.

It also shocked those both in his home ground and on the edge of their sitting room settees. I cannot remember a more devastating spell of bowling since Ian Botham cut loose among the Aussies in 1981.

Stuart Broad... the most sought after man for a `selfie.'-REUTERS

I think I can be excused for taking a small but memorable part in Broad’s upbringing. During the tour of Australia in 1986, soon after he was born, I was resting one afternoon in my hotel room when there was a knock at my door and his father, Chris, on that tour the highly successful opening bat, asked if he could borrow my tape recorder.

He had heard I had one and wanted to send a personal Christmas message home to his wife and new baby. Of course I said yes and in his turn he returned it to me within the hour. I speculate in my reflective moments that it was the message that set Stuart on his way to a career in cricket, even though in his youth he was a promising hockey player.

Of course his height, his blond hair, his sister who was working for the ECB, his father who had put a troubled career behind him to become a match referee and his sunny outlook on the game brought Stuart Broad to everyone’s attention.

He stood out in the dressing room as soon as he found a place in the England side. Michael Vaughan described him as one of the most intelligent young cricketers he had ever met.

His mother and father have divorced but in a typical modern way Stuart has dinner regularly with his father — they both live in Nottingham near the Trent Bridge ground — and I guess he listens to every word from Chris who played for Notts under the late Clive Rice, a wise man if ever there was one.

It is a disappointment to all those who know him that his batting has not progressed like his bowling. He has a Test 169 to his name and a style that reminded me of Richard Hadlee, another Nottinghamshire all-rounder who could make a whole batting line-up look foolish if he found the right pitch.

Hadlee was also a thinking cricketer; not just about the batting and bowling but about the best way to present himself. I see some of that in Broad in his willingness to be interviewed, his fluency of speech and his wish to fill in the background for those with words to write or broadcast.

Someone asked him: “Have you ever had better figures than 8-15?”

“No,” he answered with a cheeky grin. “But I did take 7-12 against Kimbolton when I was at school.”

Perhaps you can see why Stuart Broad, bowler, batsman, cricket thinker, diplomat with a sense of humour, is the poster boy of 2015, as the Ashes came home.