A weapon. A dangerous one at that. An accomplished destroyer of willow wielders. A lanky pacer who’s made a name for himself by consistently making things difficult for batsman who are supposed to be the life of the game. One reckons, in some ways, the life-sucker of a batsman. The man who talks less but makes the ball talk a great deal more. Jimmy Anderson’s partner in crime. One who is ageing like fine wine. At 35, the only thing that can stop a Stuart Broad from exploding on batsmen’s face are injuries.
Not the batsmen as such, if truth be told. For someone who has taken nearly seventh of his international Test wickets against India, 71 of his 524 (bowling 695 overs), there was a lot that was expected of Stuart Broad but just that it never really happened.
Make no mistake about the fact that at 35, Broad isn’t getting any younger. And yet, he possesses the willingness to express himself with the chosen mode of operation: the swinging ball and the virtually unplayable yorker.
The famous bandana-wearing screamer who was once pounded for six consecutive sixes has had a special affiliation with Indian batsmen, for he is very much, the bloke who troubled even Tendulkar, Laxman, Sehwag back in 2011 with Dravid being the only exception whose defences the right-arm bowler failed to breach.
Though, frankly speaking, nothing has changed a great deal in the decade since; Stuart Broad, who did go wicketless in the first inning, was quick to get the dangerman KL Rahul in the final inning of the Test.
And while surely, many would reckon that England got lucky and were great to escape with a draw, it can’t be said that Stuart Broad would not have come hard at them in the Test due to begin shortly at Lord’s.
Having barely lost any speed and still possessing the composure and grit, two founding principles for excelling in the longest format of the game, which also happens to be the most testing one, Broad has only grown in strength, not shrunk in his desire to contribute for Her Majesty’s cricket team!
Though now out owing to a sad calf injury but dreading the lost opportunity of making his presence felt throughout the series, it will be a rather strange sight to see Broad away from where he belongs- the pitch- watching the proceedings from the sidelines as Anderson and Curran will shoulder greater responsibility than before.
So what does the tall pacer think about his current situation:
Things can change so quickly. A moment before training all smiles then during the warm-up, I jumped a hurdle, landed a bit awkwardly on my right ankle then the next step felt like I’d been whipped by a rope as hard as you can imagine on the back of my leg. I actually turned to @jimmya9 & asked why he whipped me. But when I realised he was nowhere near me I knew I was in trouble. Scans say grade 3 calf. All so innocuous. Season over & gutted to miss this India Test Series but a huge focus on Australia now. Going to take my time, no rush, baby steps & be the fittest I can be heading out there. Big focus in my brain!”
That being said, is it safe to assume that in the absence of Stuart Broad, India are going to have an easy day at the office for the 2nd Test?