STUART BROAD: I'm not proving anyone wrong, I'm proving me right

STUART BROAD: I’m not proving anyone wrong, I’m proving me right… and Chris Woakes is showing he is capable of leading England’s attack

  • It will be a shame to see such an entertaining Test summer come to an end
  • Taking my 500th Test wicket has undoubtedly made me hungry for more
  • Chris Woakes is proving he is capable of leading England’s bowling attack
  • Jimmy Anderson has proved form is temporary and class is permanent 

It’s a shame that this Test summer is coming to an end because I feel as though I have runs and wickets left in the tank. Naturally, when you feel like that, you want to keep going.

Other sportspeople who have been in this kind of head space will know what I am getting at.

As soon as that competition mode is taken away – which it will be for me in 10 days’ time until January – things won’t be as easy and won’t feel as natural.

This summer of Test cricket has been one of my best, I’ll be disappointed to see it end

Taking my 500th Test wicket in the middle of what has been the most successful period of my career has undoubtedly made me feel hungry for more.

I am taking key wickets too. I dismissed Babar Azam in this match, have got opening batsmen out regularly and always prided myself on being the one to change the momentum of games.

Developing the kind of consistency that has resulted in me taking three wickets or more in seven consecutive innings is great because, in addition to standing up to the physical challenge of staying fit, it has given me confidence and made me feel foc-used. I feel I have a relentlessness to me at the moment.

Taking my 500th Test wicket in the third Test against West Indies has left me hungry for more

I was really pleased on the second day that my speeds were still good in my 23rd, 24th and 25th overs. As a bowler, that feels brilliant.

The confidence I have right now is something I want to wrap in cotton wool and take everywhere. As sportspeople, we know this kind of feeling won’t last for ever. Goalscorers in football get on runs, but they eventually come to an end.

The reason I don’t want 2020 to finish is because every time I get the ball in my hands I feel as though I am going to create a chance, and every time I walk out to bat I feel as though I could influence the game.

Conditions have been a bit drier and the ball has turned a lot more than we expected. We haven’t necessarily played on what you would call traditional English pitches but from my seam placement and the areas I am hitting, I feel in the best form of my life.

I dismissed Babar Azam in the second Test; proving that I still take key wickets

It feels very different from when I sat in this same Hilton hotel in Southampton five weeks ago, not playing.

I don’t feel as though I am proving anyone wrong. I just feel I am proving myself right.

Experience has taught me that when I set structures in place to peak at certain times, I deliver.

I might not be the guy you want to turn to in a pre-season game because it is the pressure situations a few weeks later I am preparing for.

And therefore I will be trying to replicate what I did in lockdown to get ready for the new year when we are scheduled to play India.

WOAKES LOOKS LIKE A LEADER

I have also been so pleased for Chris Woakes. Like me, he was left out when cricket returned last month and we both have had a big influence on each Test match since.

He is someone who goes under the radar a little – both in criticism and praise. He can get left out at times when he deserves to play and has been such an integral part of both the Test team and the one-day side that won the World Cup.

This summer, he has threatened with the ball, been aggressive and now looks like a leader of the attack. Everyone in the England changing room has always known how good he is but he is now stamping his authority on Test matches consistently.

Chris Woakes is proving he is capable of becoming the leader of England’s Test attack

ATTACK IS MY BEST DEFENCE 

I have felt really positive about my batting over recent weeks and it’s been pleasing to score some useful runs.

I worked on the tactical side of things with Peter Moores during practice for this international season and I have been delighted with how it has gone. Attack has proved my best form of defence.

I assessed my previous dismissals and felt that I was losing sight of the ball and getting bowled so I changed my guard, moved more onto leg-stump and made sure I could see it all the way.

As a coach, Peter always likes to use other players as examples so that you can visualise what he is talking about. In this instance he used Shane Warne’s slightly unorthodox batting in the 2005 Ashes as a template.

Peter Moores has helped me to attack with the bat once again and score useful runs

The bowlers didn’t know whether he was going leg-side or off-side when he was putting bat to ball. Equally, he could have used other slightly awkward tail-end batsmen such as Daniel Vettori or Mitchell Starc.

What has helped me emulate some of their results, though, has been the fact that my head is now still at the point of the bowler’s delivery.

That seems an obvious thing but bad habits had crept into my batting.

Try to catch a tennis ball in the garden and, if your eyes are moving, it is much harder than if they’re still. I have worked hard on that. It buys you more time.

JIMMY ANDERSON HITS BACK IN STYLE 

It was an unusual situation for Jimmy Anderson to come into this Test match feeling under scrutiny. He is not used to criticism because his standards for years have been so high.

But after one bad game in Manchester – that wasn’t actually all that bad – we all knew once he got the nod to play he was going to take wickets.

One thing I did say to him between matches was that we are living in a slightly odd scenario. Generally if you have a bad game, you can go home, speak to your missus, put the barbecue on, watch a bit of telly and relax.

Jimmy Anderson found it a little difficult to shake off one ‘bad’ performance in Manchester

Whereas this strange summer, we go to bed looking at the cricket ground, wake up looking at the cricket ground and, while we see a lot of the news, we do not see a lot of family and friends. It’s a unique environment and it’s hard to get away from the perceived pressure.

So when people were writing a month ago that it was the beginning of the end for me, or this week that Jimmy is old, being in the bubble persuades you that everyone outside of it is thinking that.

Realistically though, if you were at home with a glass of red in hand and the barbie on, you would realise it is only five people out of a million and I told him exactly that.

That he needed to relax, not feel under pressure and just go out and play. Sometimes you need a bit of a change of luck, don’t you?

He got an early nick at Old Trafford and the catch went down. Here, Azhar Ali nicked it and was caught. That’s cricket.

In between, he simply focused on the technical side of his bowling in the nets rather than the external noise.

He wanted to make sure that his alignment was at off stump rather than at leg stump, having felt he got clipped off the batsman’s hip a bit too much at Old Trafford.

Jimmy managed to reset the mental and technical aspects of his game to rediscover his form

But his experiences of this week highlight where batsmen and bowlers can really differ. For instance, would anyone ever have questioned Sachin Tendulkar if he got a low score in one game? Quite simply, no. Yet the leading seam bowler ever does after just one display?

As a bowler, you can have a half-decent day at international level and get questioned.

I guess that’s what makes it exciting, addictive and enthralling. Even the pain of it is something you want more of.

When you do a long stint in the field, the satisfaction of working hard, bowling 25 overs, is unbeatable. It is a badge of honour to wake up the next day and front up again. There is something very rewarding in showing your character off.

APOLOGIES FOR SWEARING

Finally, I would like to apologise to anyone who might have heard me use inappropriate language during the first Test win over Pakistan. That goes for people at the ground, television viewers, fellow players and officials.

Although I would argue you would have to have extremely good ears, or some particularly high-quality gadgetry, to have done so.

Receiving a demerit point and a 15 per cent match fee fine made for a good story, it being my dad Chris who, as match referee, officially handed it out. It also left me one indiscretion in this match away from being banned for a game.




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