After the Oval Test, Stuart Broad will take retirement from cricket
According to Stuart Broad‘s announcement, his final game as a professional will be the current fifth Test of the Ashes series.
Before the start of play on Saturday morning, Broad informed his longtime teammates James Anderson and Joe Root of his decision, which he had taken “at about 8.30pm” on Friday, the second day of the Test at The Oval, while reportedly fighting back tears.
“It’s been a wonderful ride, a huge privilege to wear the Nottinghamshire and the England badge as much as I have,” Broad told Sky Sports at the close of the third day’s play. “And I’m loving cricket as much as I ever have. It’s been such a wonderful series to be a part of, and I’ve always wanted to finish at the top. And this series just feels like it’s been one of the most enjoyable and entertaining I’ve been a part of.”
After reaching 600 Test wickets during the Old Trafford Test last week, Broad will retire as the fifth-highest wicket-taker in Test history and the second-best seam bowler behind only his teammate Anderson.
When England begins their fourth innings at The Oval, they will be attempting to even the Ashes series at 2-2. He has the opportunity to add to his current record of 602 wickets, and since he and James Anderson concluded the third day undefeated in their tenth-wicket stand, he may still add to his runs total of 3656.
However, his career will be linked to Ashes cricket. He has featured in each home Ashes Test since his maiden series against Australia in 2009, which is unusual. In 25 home matches, he has taken 104 wickets at an average of 26.56. With a total of 151 wickets under his belt after this series, he also surpassed Ian Botham’s long-standing mark for Test wickets against Australia.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while, a few weeks,”he added.
“England vs Australia has always been the pinnacle for me – I have loved the battles with Australia that have come my way and the team’s way, I have a love affair with Ashes and I think I wanted my last bat and bowl to be in Ashes cricket.
“I told Stokesy [Ben Stokes] last night and told the changing room this morning and, to be honest, it just felt the right time and I didn’t want friends or Nottinghamshire team-mates to see things that might come out, so I prefer to just say it now, and just give it a good crack for the last Australia innings.
“I have thought a lot about it, and even up till 8pm last night, I was 50/50. But when I went up to Stokesy’s room and told him, I have felt really happy since and content with everything I have achieved.”
Two months after turning 20 years old, in August 2006, Broad made his England debut in a Twenty20 match against Pakistan in Cardiff. The following winter, against Sri Lanka at the SSC in Colombo, he played the first of his 167 Test matches.
His career began in earnest in Wellington the following March when he and Anderson were chosen for the second Test against New Zealand in place of the Ashes-winning pair of Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard.
They together proved crucial in launching a 2-1 series turnaround. He only managed to take one wicket in that match, that of Chaminda Vaas, on what would turn out to be one of the most unforgiving surfaces he would ever encounter.
At the same location where he will now retire, Broad gave his game-changing effort. When the 2009 Ashes were tied at one all heading into the fifth Test at The Oval and England was under pressure following an innings loss in the previous Test at Headingley, Broad started the first of the devastating periods that would come to define his career.
Unbelievably, Broad would go on to provide the decisive blow in each of England’s subsequent two home Ashes victories. At Chester-le-Street in 2013, he returned the single-spell figures of 9.3-1-22-6 to put the series out of Australia’s reach, and two years later at Trent Bridge, he delivered his signature performance, returning the incredible first-day figures of 8 for 15 in 9.3 overs to rout Australia for 60.
In between two campaigns, his performance in Brisbane on the first day of the 2013–14 Ashes may have best characterized his confrontational temperament. He entered that series as Public Enemy No. 1 after the local Courier-Mail newspaper refused to use his name in an article about England’s dramatic victory at Trent Bridge the summer before because he chose to hold his ground for a catch.
To return a first-day five-for, Broad soared above the din and jeers from the crowd. He even carried a copy of the newspaper into his press conference. As it turned out, Mitchell Johnson would surpass his efforts in the same game to set up a 5-0 Ashes rout, but Broad’s spirit had survived a difficult test of willpower.
“I grew up from such a young age being besotted by [Ashes cricket],”he said.
“I certainly think as a player, I’ve had a good record in England against Australia. Ultimately, I think the competitiveness of what Australia brings to cricket brings out the best in me. I love the energy that the crowd brings to it. I know my emotions have to be sky-high for me to be a good bowler.
“It does make me feel proud to have 150 Test wickets against the Aussies, to be in that sort of category with Warnie [Shane Warne] and Glenn [McGrath] above. I’ve loved every moment of bowling against Australia for sure – apart from Mitchell Johnson bowling at Brisbane, that was horrific.”
Like his father Chris, whose three centuries in the 1986–87 Ashes were the deciding factor in England’s famous away win, Broad began life as a left-handed opener. His height also made his back-foot cover-drive a particular strength. Broad had sincere aspirations to be an allrounder early in his England career.
In a match against Pakistan at Lord’s in 2010 that was more prominently remembered for the spot-fixing incident, Broad recorded a career-best score of 169 and cemented his place on the batting honor rolls. Varun Aaron, an Indian fast bowler, delivered a nasty knock to the face in 2014 that severely damaged his batting confidence. It wasn’t until he adopted Warne’s tailendering strategy that he was able to regain his batting form.
With a propensity to retreat to leg and rely on his eye to hit the ball as hard and far as possible, Broad went on to become a dangerous counter-attacking hitter in England’s lower-order, including a stint as the so-called “Nighthawk” in the ongoing Bazball era. With this title came the freedom to defy the rules of traditional nightwatcher tactics by turning the attack back to the bowlers in the day’s final overs.
Broad is anticipated to begin working for Sky Sports as soon as he retires, but he acknowledged that following the Ashes, his top focus would be “baby-sitting duties” after he and his fiancée Mollie King welcomed the birth of their first child, Annabella, in November of last year.
“There’s quite a long break after this series so I was getting a lot of time off anyway,”he said.
“Even within this Ashes series, I’ve been home for seven or eight nights, maybe. I feel like I haven’t seen Annabella and Mollie as much as I would like to at such a young age. I love everything about being a dad. Did it come into my decision? Potentially. There’s certainly something that fills my heart with joy about the fact I’ll be spending a bit more time at home.”
When pressed on the second evening about his personal plans, Broad was as clear-eyed as his longest-serving teammate, Anderson, about whom the most of the retirement rumors in this series have revolved.
“Jimmy will carry on, definitely,”Broad said.
“He’s feeling really good and fresh, and there’s a bit of a break after this series [ahead of] an India tour where he’s got a fantastic record. It never felt right for us to go together… I was delighted to hear that Jimmy will keep going and carry on.”