STUART BROAD: I'll do all I can to stay on this amazing ride

STUART BROAD: I know I can’t play every Test now, but I’ll do all I can to stay on this amazing ride… there is a great vibe around the England team now, and this is the most fun environment I’ve ever been involved in

  • England begin their tour of New Zealand this week with Broad hoping to play
  • The side have undergone a huge transition under Ben Stokes in recent times
  • The fast bowler is hoping to remain a part of the set-up for as long as possible 

I have spent winters away with England since 2007-08 but this is my first tour as a parent and that puts a different dynamic on things.

I didn’t mind not going to Pakistan last year because I got to see my daughter Annabella born and spent the first 12 weeks of her life with her. I enjoyed that period no end and don’t look back with any regrets or any envy of the lads being together and developing a momentum that is still palpable here.

There is a great vibe around this team under Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes. I’ve played with a lot of different coaches and captains and loads of different styles work in getting results, but without doubt this is the most fun environment I’ve been involved in with England.

Although I stayed at home before Christmas, Baz kept me very connected, WhatsApping me a lot, checking in with how I was getting on and, after each of the three Test wins, I kept in touch with all the bowlers. So although I wasn’t there physically, because of those communication lines I never felt out of the picture. And because of the 3-0 result, I had no guilt missing the trip performance-wise. I didn’t feel like I could have improved the team in any way out there.

But I know with what is on the agenda this year that I can contribute significantly. Last summer, I was England’s leading wicket-taker and there’s no doubt that with the amount of cricket to come, we will need an armoury of fast bowlers.

The England Test squad are out in New Zealand for their latest series against the Black Caps

The side’s fortunes and style of play have been transformed under Brendon McCullum (left) and Ben Stokes (right)

Broad missed England’s tour to Pakistan last year to be at the birth of his baby daughter

Am I expecting to play every single Test match in 2023? No. But because my mindset has changed, I’m just prepared to take what comes. If I don’t play, I can aid in some other way, whether it be working on technical things with other bowlers or supporting them.

The memories I’ve got as a cricketer and the way I feel right now, my job satisfaction is 10 out of 10. That won’t change whether I play every Test or just one. But I know I mustn’t let that lead towards me not being committed, motivated and ready.

The 30-year-old me might not have believed how I’d be six years later, but I feel lucky that I’ve had this period of my career. After the West Indies tour last year, I didn’t know if I would play for England again, so I’m almost seeing this as a positive extension to my playing days. 

Whatever I play, whatever I’m part of, is a bonus and I’m just going with the flow. I know that I will have an impact on the Ashes, if I’m fit, so all I can control is setting my workload to make sure I’m in physical shape. I’ve got a great record against Australia and I’m at peace with what I can offer.

But we really aren’t looking beyond this two-match Test series here in New Zealand. It has been incredible to see the country for what it is. I have been here something like eight times and normally it’s the airport, a cricket ground and a hotel. I’ve seen more in the last 10 days than I have in the previous 15 years.

We’ve been socialising as a group all the time. Yesterday, we had a team barbecue at Baz’s house. He’s a great head coach, but he’s also been an incredible host so far. His attitude is infectious. He knows that the Test match game is under pressure from franchise cricket all around the world. But Baz also knows that if he can create a Test environment which is enjoyable, then players will lean towards it.

I arrived here from what felt like my longest ever break and I had the equivalent of a bowler’s hair of the dog the other day. You know the old rule about having a beer the next morning when you’ve had a few too many the night before? Well, I had extra bowling on Friday, after sending down 10 overs in match conditions against a New Zealand XI. 

For us bowlers, it’s about loading the body in readiness for what might be an unconventional approach. People saw last summer with the number of bouncers we bowled that we’re open to taking wickets in different ways and on this New Zealand tour, especially with the pink ball that doesn’t move, the bouncer warfare style will be quite prevalent.

Broad has had to be open to taking wickets in different ways under Stokes and has had to prepare accordingly

Broad and the side have been preparing for the day-night Test in Mount Maunganui this week

For the day-night Test in Mount Maunganui this week, there might be times where we just go mad for an hour with the bat, just to make New Zealand go in under lights.

When the sun begins setting, I don’t necessarily think the pink ball does any more, I just think your reaction time as a batter is slightly delayed because you can’t see it as well. This pink ball is like a hard indoor ball and doesn’t move around like the normal Test match ball we play with in the UK, so we have tried different things this week. The most we got out of it in the warm-up was bowling cross-seam.

Finding ways to take wickets will be a bit abnormal, but I can promise that we will think out of the box with tactics and field placings.

There has been some attention on whether other teams will try to emulate our positive approach to Test cricket and, although it hasn’t been evident yet, they will in time because players have so much expansion in their games now.

Yet you must also play your own style. For example, I wouldn’t expect Sir Alastair Cook to come in and hit 80 off 50. He did all right scoring his 12,000 Test runs with his own method and he would still work in this team.

It’s important to play your own style in the team but the approach has been different under Stokes

But I could envisage certain players of the recent past that might be looking at us and thinking of what might have been. Shane Watson coming in at six in a team like this? You’d be licking your lips.

One of the reasons that I believe others will try to speed up, though, is that you can get results out of draws, particularly on flat pitches. We’ve already witnessed that fans allow you that extra bit of leeway to be aggressive because they know how enjoyable it is to watch and so, when we are 50 for eight, we are not mauled for a bad performance.

This England environment has contributed to the development of Harry Brook and I don’t think I’ve seen a more talented player in my career. The cleanliness of his ball striking, the way he plays spin, his addiction to batting.

Joe Root is right up there for the catalogue of runs he has put together but give Harry the amount of cricket Joe’s played and we could see something pretty special.

He picks up length so quickly and he is just so versatile that he hits the same ball off the spinner by putting it back over his head, or pulling it for six over mid-wicket.

Broad insisted he has never seen a more talented player than new England star Harry Brook

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