Illustration-Vasim Maner
Illustration-Vasim Maner

19th September, 2007, World T20, Durban: 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6 – Stuart Broad was hammered for six consecutive sixes in an over by Yuvraj Singh. England went home with no wins in the Super Eights. The after-effect of such an onslaught on a young inexperienced 21 year old, just a year after he made his international debut, can be devastating and career-ending. (Malcolm Nash still lives with the ghost of Garry Sobers, 49 years since that day at Swansea).

Ten years hence.

Stuart Broad is the highest impact fast bowler in T20 cricket history only after Lasith Malinga (min. 60 matches).

Quite sensational for a bowler who was clobbered into the game’s hall of infamy. Most players would have had their spirits broken and confidence shattered. But not Broad. To not only make himself relevant again but doing so in the spectacular manner he did, speaks volumes of his character, mental strength and temperament.

BROAD IS THE SECOND-HIGHEST IMPACT FAST BOWLER IN T20 HISTORY

Stuart Broad has taken just 100 wickets in 85 Twenty20 matches at 21.44 apiece in his career. In terms of aggregate, he is not even amongst the top 80. In terms of bowling average, he is outside the top 15.
It is quite stunning then that he still emerges as the fifth-highest impact bowler in the history of T20 cricket (min. 60 matches) after Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine, Graeme Swann and Malinga. This makes him the second-highest impact pace bowler ever in this format.

Broad’s forte has been his ability to pick top-middle order wickets and his consistency .

He has the second-highest Top-Middle Order Wickets Impact (after Mitchell Starc) in T20 cricket history and, with a failure rate of just 20%, is the fourth-most consistent bowler (after Narine, Starc and Swann) in the format.

Broad is also the sixth-most restrictive pace bowler in T20 cricket after Dale Steyn, Starc, Malinga, Benny Howell and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

More remarkably, he was the highest impact pace bowler in the world and the second-highest overall after Swann between the 2007 World T20 and England’s triumph at the 2010 World T20 – an event in which he produced a tournament-defining performance (TD) with the ball in the semi-final against Sri Lanka.

Vs Sri Lanka, semi-final, ICC World T20, St Lucia, 2010: The England pace trio of Broad, Sidebottom and Bresnan ran through the Sri Lankan top and middle order. Matthews played a lone hand and helped Sri Lanka post 128 on the board. Broad was the pick of the bowlers. He accounted for the wickets of Jayawardene (the highest scorer of the tournament) and Kapugedera and was also very restrictive conceding just 21 runs in his 4 overs.

Broad was the second-highest impact bowler (after Swann) of the tournament.

It was a stunning comeback.

Helping his country lift the trophy at a global tournament where his confidence was crushed three seasons ago showed his temperament and character.

It remains England’s only triumph at an ICC event.

Broad is the second-highest impact bowler (again, after Swann; min. 8 matches) for England in World T20 history.

Six of his twelve highest impact performances in T20 cricket have come in World T20 tournaments – an indication that Broad raised his game on the biggest stage.

Perhaps a major reason why Broad’s accomplishments in T20 cricket have gone unrecognized is the fact that he is yet to make his debut in the IPL (due to the standoff with the ECB) – the most coveted and prestigious domestic T20 league in the world.

It is also interesting that while he is more consistent in domestic T20s, his impact in T20Is is 7% higher. He has produced 8 high impact performances in 56 appearances for England while he has just one solitary high impact performance in domestic T20 cricket (for Leicestershire in 2006).

Broad is the second-highest impact bowler (after Swann) and the fourth-highest impact player (after Kiesweter, Pietersen and Swann; min. 20 matches) for England in T20I cricket.

Overall, with a little help from his batting, Broad is second-highest impact English player in T20 cricket (again, only after Swann; min. 50 matches) during his career (June 2006 to January 2017).

But the story does not end here.

Broad has also excelled in the other two formats.

NO ENGLAND BOWLER HAS PRODUCED A HIGH IMPACT PERFORMANCE MORE FREQUENTLY THAN BROAD IN ODI CRICKET

Stuart Broad is the seventh-highest impact bowler for England in their ODI history (min. 60 matches) after Andrew Flintoff, Darren Gough, Anderson, Swann, Steven Finn and Ian Botham.

His core quality as a bowler (like in T20 cricket) is again his ability to make inroads in the opposition’s top and middle order. In this regard, he is second only to Finn in England’s ODI history.

Not surprising then, that no English bowler has a better frequency of producing a high impact performance than Broad (18 high impact performances in 121 ODIs) over their career.

It is interesting that Broad has a higher impact than Anderson if we only take match context into consideration (and not series context). Overall, Anderson is higher impact as he has 4 series-defining performances ( SD ) with the ball while Broad has just one such performance.

Broad was the second-highest impact ODI bowler in the world (just marginally after Nuwan Kulasekera; min. 20 matches) from October 2007 till December 2009. It was as if that World T20 setback brought out the best in him as a bowler.

And characteristically, his Top-Middle Order Wickets Impact was by far the best for any bowler in the world in this time-frame.

England could not make it past the Group Stage of the 2015 World Cup Down Under, following which the selectors adopted a policy of giving youth a chance (Broad has since played just two ODIs. He hasn’t represented England in a T20 match since March 2014) – making a scapegoat out of Broad in the process. He is clearly very much adept at playing this format.


BROAD IS A HIGHER IMPACT PLAYER THAN ANDERSON IN TEST CRICKET

Stuart Broad is the third-highest wicket taker (368 wickets in 102 Tests) in England’s Test cricket history after James Anderson and Ian Botham. In terms of bowling average, he is just marginally behind Anderson. In terms of bowling strike rate, he is slightly ahead.

Even through the Impact sieve, Anderson’s impact as a bowler is barely 3% higher than Broad’s. In the Ashes – often considered the standard for judging English and Australian players – it is Broad who has a 56% higher impact.

Still, when the names of the all-time great England Test bowlers are invoked, while Anderson is considered by many to be the best (along with Fred Trueman and Botham), Broad has always been seen as a support act and not in the same league.

This seems even more bizarre when one analyses their contribution as players.

Broad, who is also half an all-rounder in this format, has had a higher impact than Anderson in England’s Test cricket history. In fact there is a substantial difference of 20% in their overall impact.
While Broad features amongst the ten highest impact players in England’s 140-year Test history, Anderson is not even in the top 20.

The main reason for this stark difference is in their big-match temperament.

Broad has 4 series-defining performances ( SD ) as a player for England – one as a pure bowler and three as an all-rounder (with his bowling leading the way in all). In comparison, Anderson has just one (also not purely as a bowler) – which is astonishing for a bowler of his calibre.

Only Botham (6) and Alastair Cook (5) had more. Michael Atherton, Len Hutton, Graham Gooch, Pietersen, Geoff Boycott, Derek Underwood and Wally Hammond all had four each too.

Vs New Zealand, Third Test, Napier, 2008: The series is tied at 1-1 with all to play for in the final Test at McLean Park. England post 253 in the first innings. Broad scores an invaluable 42 (from 147 for 6) and is the second-highest scorer of the innings after Pietersen (129). New Zealand in reply are cleaned up for 168 with Sidebottom leading the way with seven wickets. Broad accounts for three. Strauss and Bell hit tons in the second innings as the hosts are set a target of 553. Broad again plays a supporting role and claims two top order wickets (Panesar took six). New Zealand are bowled out for 431.

Broad made his Test debut in Sri Lanka (played just one Test in the series) a few months after England’s infamous exit from the 2007, World T20. So, in his first full series, Broad showcases the big-match player in him and produces an SD .

The Ashes, Fifth Test, The Oval, 2009: England, electing to bat in the decider, post 332. Broad contributes 37. He then runs through the Australian top and middle order and returns with a fifer. Australia are bowled out for 160. England post 373 in the second innings setting the visitors a daunting 546. Broad plays a supporting role accounting for Watson (Swann and Harmison lead the way). Australia are bowled out for 348.

England won the Ashes 2-1 after a 5-0 drubbing in 2006 in Australia.

Broad was the highest impact player for England from his debut till the end of the 2009 Ashes – completing a remarkable comeback in all formats of the game.

He went to register two more SD performances, both in series victories against India in 2011 and 2014 (this time for consistently producing high impact performances in the series).

During his career (Dec 2007 till date), Broad has been England’s second-highest impact player in Test cricket after Swann. His 23 high impact performances are also the most by any English player in this period. He has also been the biggest series-winner for England (along with Pietersen; 4 SDs each) only after Cook (5 SDs).

So while Anderson is harped for his technique and for his ability to swing the ball it has been Broad (along with Swann) who has produced series-defining spells in Test cricket for England in the last decade.

Broad’s remarkable turnaround and his significant contribution to English cricket in all three formats of the game cannot be understated.

Talk about fighting a stigma and turning a career around.

He is no support act to anyone.

 

 

 

Nikhil Narain