Only two bowlers - James Anderson and Ian Botham - have taken more Test wickets for England than Stuart Broad. Only two - Botham and Kevin Pietersen - have won more Man-of-the-Match awards for England in Tests than Broad. Those two stats capture, in a nutshell, the importance of Broad in England's Test line-up in the nine years that he has been around.
Through the first three and a-half years of that journey, it seemed Broad might end up as a reasonably competent bowling allrounder. In his first 37 Tests, he had taken 107 wickets at 37.25, and had scored 1153 runs at 26.81. In fact, one of his most important performances till that point came with the bat, when he scored a career-best 169 against Pakistan at Lord's after coming in to bat at a dire 102 for 7. That match-winning effort spoke volumes about his batting ability, but with the ball the successes were few and far between - his most crucial contribution till that point was a series-defining haul of 5 for 37 in the last Test of the 2009 Ashes series at The Oval, which enabled England to seal the series 2-1. In the 11 series he had played till then (excluding one-off Tests), only twice had he averaged fewer than 30 with the ball.
Then came the 2011 home series against India. In four Tests, he took 25 wickets at 13.84, and since then has been on a roll with his bowling. He has averaged less than 30 in 13 out of 18 series (excluding one-off Tests) since July 2011. His bowling average during this period has dropped to 25.20 from 36.25 - an improvement of almost 28% - and his 253 wickets is the most any bowler has taken during this period. The batting average has dropped to 18.91, but not many would complain, given the huge strides he has taken with the ball.
Among the 17 bowlers with 100-plus Test wickets since July 2011, only three - Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and R Ashwin - have better averages.
Raising his game against the best
One of the best attributes of Broad is his ability to lift his game against top batsmen. The two batsmen he has dismissed most often are Michael Clarke (11 times) and AB de Villiers (ten times). Neither batsman averages more than 24 against him. He has also dismissed Hashim Amla seven times, Steven Smith and Younis Khan six times each, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and David Warner five times each (though Warner averages 50 against him), and Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar and Kane Williamson thrice each. Most of these batsmen average less than 30 against him, which is a good indicator of Broad's ability to rise to the challenge of bowling to a top batsman.
Among the batsmen who have done well against him are Graeme Smith (199 runs, 306 balls, one dismissal), Rahul Dravid (136 runs, 340 balls, two dismissals) and Warner (251 runs, 352 balls, five dismissals). Mahela Jayawardene and Jacques Kallis have been dismissed three times each, but average 44 and 41.33.
The stats for Smith and Warner are also indicative of the fact that Broad isn't as lethal against left-handers as he is against right-hand batsmen. His overall average against them is 36.26, and even in the last five and a half years, it has only dropped to 32.37. Against right-handers, his numbers are a lot better.
Broad's ability to dismiss top-class batsmen early in their innings is reflected in his high average wicket value, which is the average difference between the batsman's average coming into that Test and the score at which he was dismissed by Broad. Calculated for batsmen in the top five in a batting line-up, the corresponding average wicket value for Broad is 15.19, which means on average, he dismisses a top-five batsman averaging 50 for 35. Among all bowlers who have taken at least 100 top-five wickets, only three - Glenn McGrath, Fred Trueman and Steyn - have a higher difference.
Five for very little
Broad is one of only eight bowlers to take a five-for conceding 25 or fewer runs on three or more occasions - he took 8 for 15 against Australia at Trent Bridge, 6 for 17 against South Africa in Johannesburg, and 6 for 25 against India at Old Trafford. In the 15 innings when he has taken five, his bowling average is 9.69, and his strike rate 18.8 balls per wicket. The strike rate is the best among the 57 bowlers who have taken at least ten five-fors in the last 52 years (since the start of 1965), while the average is third-best, next only to Shaun Pollock and Malcolm Marshall.
In eight of the 14 Tests when Broad has taken a five-for, he has won the match award. He is third in the all-time list of most such awards won by an England player, and second-highest among all teams since July 2011, next only to Rangana Herath.
These are outstanding numbers for a bowler who only had a modest start to his international career. The average in Asia is an aspect he will want to improve upon - it is 38.36, after 14 Tests in the continent, but he will get a huge opportunity to improve that statistic on the five-Test tour to India over the next few weeks. The first of those games will be his 100th Test as well, an honour which will be richly deserved for one of England's biggest match-winners.
With inputs from Shiva Jayaraman.