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The Broad reason for England's success

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Stuart_Broad_England_cricketWhen it comes to making it big in world cricket these days, many cricketers have taken the shortest format. The rebellious, free-stroking ways of T20 Cricket have led to many triumphs for many players around the world. T20 leagues have given first timers a place to shine and a spotlight.

T20 has a certain magnetism about it, in the sense that not just the young guns but the old, wise 'has beens' of the sport have played it with much aplomb. Who would have imagined men of the experience of Zaheer, Hussey, Dravid, Tendulkar, Kallis and Ponting belting big runs whilst donning colorful shades of many a T20 franchise?

Favouring the white kit

But not all who shine at the biggest stage do it through the medium of T20. For fast bowlers, the rewards are frugal compared the danger of being whacked all around the ground in a format that bases itself on mindless hitting. Some prefer to rough it out on the classic turf of Test Match Cricket and the ODI pitch (when given a chance) in their attempt to carve a niche for themselves.

Among the most celebrated players who chose not the path of making a quick buck through T20 franchise cricket while continuing to make giant strides in Tests is Stuart Broad, England's third highest Test wicket taker of all time.

Truth be told, the young Nottingham lad isn't the most feared bowler of his generation. But nor is he a speedster whose economy rate is described with adjectives such as 'exorbitant'. Tall and lanky, Broad's baby faced personality seems to suggest that he cannot naturally be a threat to batsmen, but his overall approach to the game is anything but easy going. Here's a determined lad, a feisty contender who has made a name for himself as England's most striking fast bowler alongside Jimmy Anderson.

There's nothing languid about Stuart Broad, neither about his bowling style or his attitude with the red ball in hand. Once lamented for being completely decimated by Yuvraj Singh's 6 sixes in a row, Broad has come a long way from that moment, so much so that he is considered the best new ball bowler for England in the last decade. Every now and again, he pairs alongside Jimmy Anderson and begins to puzzle batsmen on testing English wickets with pace, bounce and swing, the elements that yield him the richest Test cricket harvest. From 94 tests, he's claimed 345 scalps, with best bowling figures of 8 for 15. For a good fast bowler to be called great, he's got to make the most of his form in both bowling and fitness. Health woes and injury struggles often pin down promising careers. Take the case of Jason Gillespie and Irfan Pathan.

Fit as a fiddle, hungry as a bull on the run

But in the 10 years that Stuart Broad has been around, he has made the most of time in the middle. He has sweated a great deal in his running down over the opposition. He's run hard, challenged batsmen and made headlines by making early breakthroughs into the best batting orders on his day.

There was no doubt about his maturity when he was elected as the English captain for the T20 side, with many noticing his desire to think on his feet. Further accolades flowed in with his important contribution in giving the English an edge over their long time adversaries, Australia.

There has been a certain fluidity about the way Broad unleashes himself in the 5 day contest. There's a thin line between a red cherry becoming a ticking time bomb when placed in Broad's grip.

2011 triumph

A fiercely determined lad, he can be fiendishly clever with the new ball and has done so over and over again in the past for England. The 12 wickets that he just grabbed in the recent Test series against the Sri Lanka brought back memories of a priceless English summer against the touring Indians in 2011.

5 summers ago in the 4 Test series, the duo of Anderson and Broad reduced India to a shambles, with Dravid being the only saving grace for India, belting 461 runs. Forming a memorable bowling unit with Jimmy Anderson, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad was the main man that gunned for India's top order. He was literally unplayable, bowling on an off-stump line and taking the odd ball away from the batsman.

In the entirety of England making light work of a prized Indian batting order, which included Gautam Gambhir, VVS, Sachin and Dravid, Stuart Broad led the demolition of India. Unplayable at Lords, cunning and daring at The Oval, he was at his fierce best at Nottingham.

Post 2011

Among the few in the game who have reserved their appearance in the slam-bam dismissive ways of T20, Broad has kept up with his disciplined and regimented life and focused purely in Tests, despite having appeared for a 120 odd One Days for England.

In their trouncing against Pakistan, where England lost all 3 tests in 2012, Broad's form with the ball was the only positive for his side.

Lording at Lord's

Interestingly, back at Lord's against the touring Windies, Broad was back to his fierce best. Broad took 7 for 72 at Lord's, becoming the only English bowler to take 10 wickets in a game at Lord’s since the great Botham in '78. It seems he's got a special romance going for him at Lord's. He would soon better his own record at the home of cricket in 2013 after just a spate of lackluster performances.

In 2013, against the touring Kiwis of Brendon McCullum, Broad ripped apart a tall batting order, taking 7 for 44. But not a man who is easily satisfied, he went one better against the Aussies. At Chester-le-Street, he single-handedly won an Ashes test for his side claiming a hefty 11 wickets.

A seasoned campaigner

As a bowler, he has both variety and a feel of the wicket. And he isn't a lone wolf. He is a handy team man who is willing to hit the nets hard in a bid to offer meaningful contributions with the bat. A genuinely quick pacer, the lad celebrating his 30th on the 24th of June has tons of cricket left in him. And like most great bowlers, he relishes hunting in pair. He forms perhaps the best bowling combination in contemporary cricket. Playing alongside Jimmy Anderson has not just reversed Broad's fortunes for good but cast a shadow of doubt over many who visit England holding their willows nervously.

Together with Anderson, he's played 86 tests, from which the duo have taken a mammoth 664 wickets.

These are figures that suggest quality fast bowling of a very high class. But with a lot of time in hand and with England suddenly beaming with an enlightened approach of playing white ball cricket, there's got to be more of Stuart swinging back into action in colored English clothing. Taking England to the top may not be such an ask after all with his experience.

 

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