Stuart Broad joins 500-wicket club in Test Cricket

Stuart Christopher John Broad took a wicket on Tuesday 28 Jul 2020 on the morning of the fifth and final day of the third test of series against West Indies of Kraig Brathwaite to join an elite list of bowlers having taken 500 or more wickets. It is a monumental effort from a player who has his share of limitations as is with any great bowler. He joined his fellow Englishman Anderson in the league who also reached the milestone against the same batsman.

His father Christopher Broad or Chris Broad was also a former England opener and current ICC match referee. Stuart was born on 24th June 1986, 12 weeks prematurely and was saved by a doctor called John. After Dr Kuhn saved him Stuart was given the middle name of John.

Stuart Broad started his early career at Leicestershire and then moved to Nottinghamshire, county of his birth and team for which his father also played. He developed as a player there and with part of various teams like England A, EU19 and other future development squads he was ready for International cricket by the time he was 20.

On 23 Aug 2006, Broad made his T20I debut and took wickets off consecutive deliveries and missed hat-trick as Shahid Afridi‘s lofted hit fell just short of Kevin Pieterson. A week later on 30 Aug, he made his ODI debut against Pakistan. His first Man of the Match performance came in a low scoring encounter as first he took 4/51 and then joined Bopara in an unbeaten 99 run stand that won their side the match by three wickets. Broad scored 45 in that partnership and showing his other side of the game.

Next year in 2007, Broad made a debut in an away test for England against Srilanka in a high scoring game and took 1 wicket giving away 95 runs. Next year in 2008 Broad made his home test debut against New Zealand and took 3 wickets in a 6 wicket victory for England. In the next match of series, he did his batting reputation no harm by scoring 64. Broad slowly started to cement his test place by picking wickets and scoring runs. At one stage his batting average crossed 40 and many pundits suggest that Broad could become a genuine all-rounder.

In 2009 Ashes series in England, he gave a series-winning performance. Series squared at 1 apiece and last test at Oval, there was all to play for England as drawn series would have meant Australia retaining the ashes. Australia were 73/0 going after England first innings score and broad took 4?5 wickets to take Australia to 113/7 and eventually bowled out for 160. Australia were so much behind the game that went in to lose the game by 197 runs. Broad scored 39 and 27 in both innings to further enhance his batting credentials.

By now he had made a good pair with James Anderson and were the two best new-ball bowlers for England. Both declined to play in IPL to concentrate on Test cricket England won T20WC 2010 where Broad took 8 wickets throughout the tournament and also won the MOM award in the semifinal. Later that year he made a career-best 162 not out in a test match against Pakistan at Lords, Broad was also involved in a 332 run stand for 8th wicket with Jonathan Trott. His name was on Lord’s batting honours board, even his father had failed to grab this achievement.

But with Stuart’s 100 both father-son became first such pair took score test centuries for England. Broad was becoming a dangerous bowler in-home and home-a like conditions, struggling in the subcontinent. But once in the ascendency, he uses to take wickets in clusters. In 2013 he set a new record of staying at the crease for 103 minutes, facing 62 balls but not scoring a run. In 2013 Ashes, he edged one delivery was caught, the umpire didn’t raise the finger, Australia had used their DRS reviews and so he didn’t walk. He was very much within his rights, and then formed a match-turning partnership of 138 with Bell and England eventually won by 14 runs. He coped a lot of criticism but didn’t care one bit which was necessary so that his performances don’t get affected.

In 4th match of series, Australia was in pursuit of 298 to get back into series and were sitting at 173/3 and from there Broad produced a spell of 6/20 and England defeated Australia by 74 runs to go 3-0 up. The return 2014 series, Australia thrashes them 5-0 but Broad was one of the creditable performers. Broad’s performance in Tests was remarkable and mediocre in ODIs as was a case of all England players till 2015 WC.

After a forgettable 2015 WC outing, he was dropped from ODI plan’s but was a key member of test team Both he and Anderson were used for tests only with likes of Willey, Wood, Plunkett, Woakes taking their place. Broad continued his domination in Tests and in England he was unplayable. In 2015 ashes series in England he took a Joel Garner like figured of 8/15 and annihilated Aussies for 60. Although before that in test series in UAE with no help from pitches he was seen with wicketkeeper upto stumps. But as is the case with a batsman of they struggle against a moving ball then a bowler on placid tracks is bound to have his struggles.

In 2018 he became the youngest to reach 400 test wickets against NZ. In 2019 he claimed his 100 ashes wicket by dismissing David Warner in the first test and in next innings of the same test he claimed his 450 test wicket. In first series post-COVID break he was not selected in the first test by Stokes and Broad vented out his frustration which he had the right to. He was recalled for the second match of series and he took 6 wickets on return and in the final match scored a momentum-changing 62, took 10 wickets including his 500th one and duly won MOM & MOS awards.

In between all this, there was a night in Durban in 2007 T20 WC where Yuvraj Singh smashed him for 6 sixes in an over and Broad became a laughing stock for everyone. Had this happened to an Asian player chance of him getting more opportunities would have been very slim but ECB deserves special credit and now after years of hard work Broad played 136 tests and in the company of some greats. With still some 3-4 years of cricket left in him (if form permits, he plays only test cricket) he could end with around 625-650 wickets.

For a career that has seen highs and lows as is the case with any cricketer, but to reach were he has reached now is simply magnificent. As records say only 5 have crossed 500 wicket barrier and he is one of them.