August 15, 2012

'I learned pretty quickly to mix it up'

Ahead of Stuart Broad's 50th Test appearance, and 100th first-class game, he reflects on his career to date

2005: The beginning
I had an offer from Durham University and a contract offer from Leicestershire. I took the contract home to my mum and we decided I should approach my cricket career as someone else might an apprenticeship in another profession, such as plumbing. University was a real temptation, but the decision worked well, and a year or so later I was playing for England.

2006: England ODI debut
I had only played six List A games before my ODI debut, so the selectors took a bit of a gamble on me. But there are two ways to learn, aren't there? You can spend years learning your trade in the county game, or you can be thrown in at the deep end. I feel very fortunate that they did that with me. It was an intense experience, but I learned quickly and feel it was hugely beneficial for me. I'm 26 now and most bowlers peak between 28 and 32.

2007: Being hit for six sixes in an over by Yuvraj Singh
It was a learning experience. I'd had a good summer but, it turned out, I didn't have the variations required for that level of international cricket. When you're growing up, you're taught to bowl six balls in the same spot, but after that I learned pretty quickly that you have to mix it up. It was all part of the learning curve. The other thing was, at least that over didn't cost us anything. We were already out of the competition and it was a dead game.

2008: Leaving Leicestershire for Nottinghamshire
I developed through the system at Leicestershire and consider myself very fortunate to have done so. They were fantastic for me. A bigger, richer club wouldn't have put me in the first team so soon but at Grace Road I had lots of opportunity. But, at the time, I wasn't in the Test side and the view was that I needed to be playing Division One cricket. There's a huge gap between the two divisions now. Nottinghamshire have been brilliant. Mick Newell is an amazing coach and man manager, the facilities are excellent, and it's a big club playing in the top division. I've not looked back.

2009: Man of the Match at The Oval as England beat Australia to reclaim the Ashes
That changed my life. I was only 23 and it had been a tough summer, but that spell turned it around. It was a special time. And the celebrations after the series were even more special. We became celebrities after that series. It was the biggest series I had played to date and, at the time, it was probably my career highlight.

2011: Hat-trick against India at Trent Bridge
That's what I see as my career highlight. It annoys me when people say India were rubbish in that series. It makes me think that they know nothing about cricket. India were a very strong side and, until then, they had us under real pressure. We were under the pump in that game. We had been bowled out cheaply in the first innings and they passed us with only four wickets down. But then I was able to put my hand up in a big game on my home ground and we bowled them out in about an hour. India were a good side, but we were fantastic in that series.

Current workload
I'm not one to complain about playing cricket. We're very lucky, aren't we? I love playing cricket, and when you think about those people who have to get up on a cold morning and go to work on a building site, you realise pretty quickly no one wants to hear us moaning. It's true that we're away from home a lot, but a million people would swap positions with us in an instant. And you're a long time retired.

Yes, I play all three formats and yes I'd like to play IPL, but the priority is playing for England. It is with most guys. When you look back on your career, it is the memories you make playing for your country that are most special.

The England set-up is very well managed now, too. Andrew Flintoff just played until he broke. That doesn't happen anymore. Every ball we deliver, in the nets or in the middle, is monitored, and we are told when we need a break. We're very well looked after.

Bowling speeds this summer
I don't think the speed guns should be trusted. We don't really see the figures from those as players, anyway, but the way I understand it, the speeds have been down for the South Africa bowlers too. There's no way Dale Steyn is bowling at 79mph, I promise you. We use Hawk-Eye data

2012: South Africa at Lord's
This Test against South Africa is huge. We have a good record at Lord's and we are very excited by the challenge. It is a must-win game and we are up against one of the best sides we've played. It's a huge challenge but one I absolutely believe we can overcome.

Stuart Broad was speaking at West Bridgfordians CC. The club is one of three who have won the chance to take on the NatWest Legends in a one-off match to help boost their fundraising efforts. To find out more about the NatWest Locals vs Legends T20 Series and for more details about all three matches, visit

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo