Self-proclaimed Test “addict” Stuart Broad was able to quit on his own terms, announcing on Saturday he would retire following the Ashes finale at The Oval.
After stumps on the third day of a Test in which England are pressing for a series-levelling win against their arch-rivals might seem an odd time to make such a statement.
But Broad, 37, has never been shy of going his own way in a 167-match career that has yielded 602 Test wickets so far -- the fifth-highest tally by any bowler.
Longstanding England new-ball colleague James Anderson (690) is the only paceman higher than him on the all-time list.
It is all a far cry from a setback early in his international career when Broad was hit for six sixes in an over by India’s Yuvraj Singh during the 2007 World Twenty20 in South Africa.
Broad, who made his name at English county Leicestershire before joining Midlands rivals Nottinghamshire, recovered and became renowned for an ability to turn a game with match-winning bursts -- he has taken five or more wickets 20 times in a Test innings.
He took an astounding 8-15 on his Trent Bridge home ground in Nottingham when, leading the attack in the absence of the injured Anderson, he sparked an Australia collapse to 60 all out during England’s 2015 Ashes triumph.
By then he was already a public enemy in Australia for his refusal to leave the crease after edging to slip in an Ashes clash on the same ground two years earlier, only for umpire Aleem Dar to rule in his favour.
Broad, then on 37, made 65 in a match England won by just 14 runs.
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- ‘True champion’ -
Australia great Glenn McGrath, a childhood hero of Broad’s, said Saturday that his fellow seamer’s ability to raise his game when most needed made him a “true champion”.
“He loves the big moments, he loves the pressure and that is the sign of a true champion,” McGrath, whose tally of 563 Test wickets was surpassed by Broad last year, told the BBC. “He has been incredible for England for a long, long time.”
Broad only started bowling towards the end of a school career that indicated he might follow in the footsteps of his father Chris Broad, an Ashes-winning batsman.
That batting talent was still on show during Stuart Broad’s superb 169 against Pakistan at Lord’s in 2010, although he has never been quite the same with the bat since having his nose broken by a bouncer from India’s Varun Aaron four years later.
A four-time Ashes winner, Broad, with blond hair and boyish good looks, has been a fierce competitor throughout his career.
That was never more evident when, having been left out of England’s tour of the Caribbean last year, he regained his place to flourish again under the ‘Bazball’ regime of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.
England’s leading bowler in the current Ashes series, Broad became just the fifth man to take 600 Test wickets during last week’s rain-marred draw in Manchester.
“I am addicted to Test cricket,” he said afterwards. “I like the grit and competitive nature of it. It’s great to be on that list with some of the greats of the game.”
Broad has been a particular thorn in the side of David Warner, dismissing the Australia opener 17 times.
Although not a bowler of express pace, Broad’s ability to generate bounce and late movement from a 6 feet 5 inch (1.95 metre) frame has repeatedly troubled the best batsmen of his generation.
But he said he hoped cricket-lovers would remember him for his will to win, as much as his talent.
“I would say every day I’ve pulled on a Nottinghamshire shirt or an England shirt, I’ve given my heart and soul,” he said.
“I can’t think there’ll be too many cricket fans out there who would think I’ve slacked off for a moment.”
(Text from AFP)
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