Stuart Broad: Is Stuart Broad batting? The scorecard at the end of day three at The Oval will say yes to that question. England’s first self-confessed ‘Nighthawk’, unbeaten in 2 balls for 2 runs, dropped to number ten in the match. If Ben Stokes declares an overnight innings, Broad will not bat again.
And if Stokes does not declare an innings, Broad will come out to bat for the last time. The companion will be James Anderson. The most successful bowling pair in history, two of the most successful pacers in Test history will come out to bat together for the last time.
To ask whether Broad is batting or not, the above English word is not to be said. Actually ‘Is Stewart Broad Batting?’ is the name of a Twitter ID. 15 thousand followers, the words written in the ‘bio’ mean – ‘to answer an important question’.
Just by hearing the name you can probably guess some of the activities of that ID. When there is a Test in England, Broad’s batting becomes a buzzword. ‘Stuart Broad is padding up’, ‘Stuart Broad is batting’, ‘Stuart Broad is no longer batting’—the language of the tweets is usually like this. A meme is added.
As journalist Jarrod Kimber calls Broad the ‘meme king’ of cricket or the king of memes. Brad’s work is like that. In this Ashes Test, Broad, once known as Draco Malfoy, performed ‘black magic’ by swapping the bells of Marnus Labuchen’s stumps. He joked about it in the press conference, also on Twitter.
Broad himself loves to tweet and is also very active on social media. When Dad was penalized by match referee Chris Broad, Broad took to social media to announce—he’d be leaving Dad off the Christmas gift list! At the start of the Ashes, when the Australian press made Ollie Robinson the ‘Number One Villain’, Broad commented with regret that he had lost that title so quickly!
In 2013, Broad survived the umpire’s dismissal of Ashton Agger’s ball at Trent Bridge, and became the number one villain of the Australians without a ‘walk’. In the next Ashes, a local newspaper refused to print Broad’s name, after taking 5 wickets, Broad walked into the press conference brandishing a copy of the newspaper. Even once in the field, he himself tuned in to the chorus of the audience’s taunts!
Broad loves the Ashes. No English bowler has taken more wickets against Australia than Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath in cricket’s oldest battle. After 14 years since his debut, Broad hasn’t missed a single Test on home soil in the Ashes – he has played 25 in a row. And became the “villain” of Australia.
Broad, who once went to Australia to play club cricket, is still a left-arm opener like his father Chris Broad, who also bowls pace. However, after that season in Australia, he became a full-fledged pacer, who also bats. As Steve Waugh once said, Australians can’t see their competitive peers. Broad was in that class.
Having been hit with six sixes by Yuvraj Singh earlier in his career, Broad has had to turn around from there. Not getting that kind of limited-overs opportunity since 2015 has definitely helped him, like Anderson, to prolong his Test career.
Broad still wanted to compete, and still loved the game of cricket as much as ever. Just like before, Barbour said he was enjoying cricket more than ever in this new England era of Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes. Still wants to say goodbye while still in top form. He became the second pacer to take 600 wickets in the series, holding the record for the highest wicket by an English bowler against Australia.
It was at this Oval in 2009 that Broad gave his arrival message. Bowled a match-winning spell in the last Test of the series. Broad has heard throughout his career that he is not exactly a ‘great’ bowler. But he is a bowler who has many ‘great’ spells. His spell of 8 for 15 in the innings that bowled Australia out for 60 in the Trent Bridge Test in 2015, for example. Broad had been ‘brutal’ at Trent bridge that day. Which is considered one of the best, if not the best in the history of the Ashes. It is also one of the highlights of Broad’s career.
Anderson was out due to an injury in that match. Although the two are good friends, Broad has always been in the shadow of that man in his career. But whenever he got the chance, Broad bowled as if to say again and again – his brilliance is not overshadowed at all.
England’s only achievement was a Test draw in the last Ashes on Australian soil (a series which Broad again declared not to count as Ashes due to coronavirus restrictions), with a last-wicket partnership from Broad-Anderson in Sydney saving the match. When both were dropped from the team, many assumed that would be the last Broad-Anderson film. But England now announces that the draw is not considered as an ‘option’ for the Test! And Broad suddenly announced his retirement after a great series. Broad is such a person, after his departure, that’s why I remember that Twitter ID. There is a crowd of other words, ‘So we have another chance to celebrate his batting (Ben Stokes, this time if you dare!), another chance to see him, hopefully over cover or deep midwicket. And then, goodbye…. One more time, Stuart, just one more time.’