Broad admits to nightmares over Aaron blow
Stuart Broad has admitted that he has suffered from nightmares after being hit in the face by a bouncer from India's Varun Aaron last summer.
Broad sustained a broken nose, which required surgery, and two black eyes after he top-edged the ball into the grille of his helmet and is still working with a sports psychologist to try and move past the experience.
By conceding the psychological effect he has suffered since Aaron struck him in the Old Trafford Test, he has dared to speak out about the physical threat of fast bowling in an open manner that is quite unusual in the game.
He played in the next Test, at The Oval, wearing a face mask and underwent surgery on a knee problem shortly after, a period which he has concluded began to trigger the flashbacks.
Perhaps surprisingly, the shock was delayed, with Broad recalling no deep-seated issues at The Oval. "Not for the next game," he said. "I felt fine going out to bat. Nervous but fine. But having had four months off subsequently I have had nightmares about it. I have had times when I have felt the ball just about to hit my face in the middle of the night. It has been quite tough.
"I am working with the sports psychologist to try and focus the mind on other things. After my operation, I don't know if the drugs had anything to do with it, but I would wake up feeling like a ball had hit me in the face which is a bit strange.
"It is a weird thing to see that ball, thinking you are about to hit it. I still have that picture in my mind and I can remember it clearly. It is a weird situation.
"I get nightmares still and I wake up thinking I have been hit in the face by a ball," he said. "Even when I get tired I see balls flying at me. My jaw clicks from it and if I have two glasses of wine I have black eyes."
Broad's batting form had begun to disappoint long before the blow, as hopes that he would become a fully-fledged allrounder have never quite materialised. Instead, his carefree approach has merely delivered useful lower-order runs.
The blow from Aaron, though, has brought deeper challenges. Just over a week ago, he was criticised for backing away from Tim Southee during England's eight-wicket loss to New Zealand in Christchurch with several critics remarking that he no longer justified his batting spot at No 8.
Following the nine-wicket loss to Sri Lanka, England need to win their final two group games - against Bangladesh and Afghanistan - to remain in contention for a quarter-final spot.
While Broad must combat his own demons when batting, he also knows that as a senior player he has a role to play in lifting the self-belief of a young side that has so far failed to deliver in the World Cup.
"When things are not going well you tend to go within yourself and I think we were a bit like that in the field," Broad said. "We don't have natural 'out there' guys at all. Everyone's lovely. Everyone's really nice.
"It is a young group. It's a danger with a young group that you've watched the guys you're playing against on TV. But actually you've got to stand up and believe you can take on these sort of players. And we can. We've got the talent and skill to do it.
"I don't know if you've heard this phrase going round our group at the minute - attitude over skill. It doesn't matter how you hit them in the nets. Get out in the middle and front up and play. So that's a big push we're trying to go with at the minute."
England have been accused of relying too much on data and statistics in the field and Broad conceded that the group were still finding their way under Peter Moores. Broad has been part of the side for several years but said he had got sucked into analysing the opposition, rather than focusing on his own game - with the result that he has taken two wickets at a cost of 92.00 in England's four matches.
"That is our fault because we've got it there to look at," Broad said. "On our iPads there is a dossier on the other teams and you can go into it if you want to, and there I am beavering away.
"When we were at our best, we had characters like Trotty and Swanny. They couldn't give a crap what anyone else was doing. They hardly knew who we were playing against. Maybe as a playing group we can get stronger with not bothering what the opposition are doing.
"We did that naturally when we had a lot of experience in our team. Now is the time for us to find our identity, rather than not worrying about what everyone else is doing. I have been looking at things like where Tillakaratne Dilshan's strong areas are and where shouldn't you bowl to Kumar Sangakkara, but actually from now on I'm not interested in that. I'm going to run in and bowl what I'm good at."