Only a few years ago, Stuart Broad was considering giving up Test cricket.
For many, after a highly successful career with over 500 Test wickets, the competitive spark may have slowly begun to dim. The hunger and fire to play at the highest level may have been left behind.
Broad questioned whether this had happened to him, whether he was content with his career and if retirement was potentially an option.
“I must admit that a few years ago I was umming and ahhing,” Broad said speaking to media at Stumps on Day 2.
It was only a conversation with his father, ex-English opener Chris Broad, which gave him a whole new perspective on the game, and his future within it.
“(My father) has a great belief that you play the game you love for as long as you can,” Broad said.
“While the fire burns you should play, nothing replicates it in life. Nothing can bring you the satisfaction, the pain, the highs, and the lows.”
Despite this conversation and his decision to play on, it hasn’t come easy over recent years for the big English quick.
2021 was a tough year for Broad, in fact, the English legend described it as “his worst year for sure”.
He only ended up playing seven of England’s 13 test matches, as a result of injuries and purely not being selected in the starting XI. His bowling average of 39.5 was his worst in test match cricket since 2008.
Throughout the year Broad found himself in the unfamiliar position of running waters between overs, sitting on the sideline instead of in his usual role of steaming in with the new ball.
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Those disappointing days of running drinks, the long rehab after sustaining an injury against India last year, the decision to continue putting his body through the rigours of Test cricket, it was all worth it on day two of the Pink Test.
As he walked off the field with five wickets to his name, both English and Australian fans could only look on in amazement at what Broad had been able to achieve.
It was as if the Broad of old was playing in Sydney, bowling aggressively as he ground away spell after spell, picking up four of Australia’s top six as well as captain Pat Cummins with a brutal bouncer.
It brought back memories of the many years of Ashes success that he has had over his 15-year career.
The 5/101 he collected was his first five-wicket haul since July 2020, and the first from an Englishman in this Ashes series.
For Broad watching his long-time teammate and friend Jimmy Anderson wind back the clock over the last few years and especially in Melbourne has been one of his biggest motivators.
Watching the all-time great continue to perform at such an elite level has in a sense proved to himself that he still has much to give in the test arena.
“Jimmy has been a big inspiration for me, I see how much drive he has at 39 and how much energy he puts into not just the match days but the skill and development,” he said.
“I’m not as skillful as Jimmy and I don’t have as much armoury in my locker with the skills that he has with the ball, I’ve got the motivation and drive; I feel I can contribute as much as Jimmy.”
Whilst the drive and passion are certainly still there for Broad, he understands that his role in the team is no longer their star seamer for all five matches in a series. Two or three matches was the exact amount he had mentally prepared himself to play on this tour.
“I haven’t been a regular this year, when I was 26, 27, 28 I expected to play every game and I haven’t done,” he said.
“When you miss out in test matches and don’t play many over a year it makes you understand how special they are.”
For Broad, it is a case of making every opportunity count as his career begins to wind down.
Whilst the years of him tearing batting line-ups apart in every English test match may be passed, we haven’t seen the back end of him just yet.
He may not be able to play double-digit tests in a year like he used to, but whenever he gets the opportunity to put on the English cap he is going to make sure that he makes the most of it, and enjoy every second as the fire still burns away.
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