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Broad's Magnificent Seven

Seven times in his Test career, Stuart Broad has claimed five wickets or more in a single spell of bowling. ESPNcricinfo looks back on each of those moments

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
16-Jan-2016 • Updated on 22-Jul-2023
Stuart Broad announced his impending retirement at the close of day three, England vs Australia, 5th men's Ashes Test, The Oval, 3rd day, July 29, 2023

Stuart Broad announced his impending retirement during the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval  •  ECB via Getty Images

Following the announcement of Stuart Broad's retirement from Test cricket, we look back at his seven trademark bursts with the ball - from The Oval to the Wanderers, each famous spell yielding a five-wicket haul.
Those who had witnessed Broad's baptism as a Test cricketer on two arduous tours of Sri Lanka and New Zealand in 2007-08 always knew there was much more to his game than mere pretty-boy looks and a notable cricketing father. But, at the age of 23, and after a middling return of 58 wickets in 21 Tests, this was the Test in which the boy became a man. With England needing nothing less than victory in the fifth Test to reclaim the Ashes, Broad built on the nugget of confidence he alone had taken from a disastrous innings defeat in the preceding Test at Headingley, and wrestled Australia to the canvas. Shane Watson fell to the sixth ball of his spell - lbw inevitably, but full and straight was the message. Ricky Ponting chopped on, Mike Hussey was nailed by an inducker. An ominous 73 for 0 was 133 for 8 by the time he took his sweater, and a tendency to rise to the occasion had been noted.
It is easy, in hindsight, to disparage India's 4-0 whitewash in 2011. By the time of the final Test at The Oval, MS Dhoni's men had mentally checked out of the tour, while England had surged to No.1 in the Test rankings. But for one and a half matches, the contest was raw and compelling - England had prevailed in a tussle for the ages at Lord's but, after being bundled aside for 221, were staring at a massive deficit in the second Test, with India 267 for 4 when Broad found his range on his home ground at Trent Bridge. His stampede through the lower-middle order included the first hat-trick of his Test career, as Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar all fell foul of his wicket-to-wicket line. Harbhajan's lbw, it was wryly noted, could have been reprieved for a thick inside-edge, but for India's refusal to endorse the use of DRS.
"It's not easy being me in this dressing room," was Kevin Pietersen's plaintive cry after his savagely brilliant 149 had turned South Africa's outstanding attack into net bowlers to light up a dank, drizzly contest that matched the prevailing English mood. It can't have been easy being anyone in that toxic, divided dressing room, but Broad found the best remedy was to get out on the pitch and do what he does best. After 10 fruitless overs at the top of the innings, he returned at 205 for 3 on the final afternoon with the contest dribbling to a draw. Six overs and five wickets later, Graeme Smith had been so stung by Broad's onslaught, which included AB de Villiers and JP Duminy in the space of his first five balls, that he declared nine-down, leaving England 253 in 39 overs to square the series. Cue a furious KP, punted up to the top of the order in a bid to unleash his own turmoil onto his opponents. But his three fours in Morkel's first over weren't enough to propel an unlikely result.
A low-scoring Lord's dogfight was settled, in no uncertain terms, by Broad's mongrel spirit on a dizzy fourth afternoon. After consecutive team innings of 232, 207 and 213, the last of which - England's second - was marked by an early Joe Root masterpiece (71 from 120 balls) New Zealand were tasked with 239 for victory and all the time in the world to get there. They needed only 22.3 overs for a result. Bowling unchanged throughout a completed Lord's innings for the first time since 1936, Broad and James Anderson shared the spoils unevenly, with Broad's then-career-best 7 for 44 sending the visitors spiralling to 68 all out. Broad scalped the top four, including Peter Fulton with his third ball, and the rest was a formality.
Now you see it, now you don't. Right up until the moment it was swiped from under their noses, Australia believed that a share of the 2013 Ashes series was their destiny. The urn itself was gone - lost to the rain at Old Trafford following a Lord's humiliation that had left them 2-0 down and needing three wins on the spin to stay afloat. But the moral victories kept stacking up against an England team in which something just didn't feel right, and which would be exposed soon enough Down Under. At 147 for 1 on the fourth afternoon, with David Warner's belligerence making short work of their 299 target, the fruits of Darren Lehmann's more permissive dressing-room regime were blooming for the Aussies. But Tim Bresnan chiselled the vital opening as Warner was caught behind for 71, and Broad followed up with the sledgehammer. His stunning leg-cutter to bowl Michael Clarke was the prelude to an Ashes victory waltz, as Australia lost nine wickets in the session to surrender the series with a confounding whimper.
Another Ashes decider, and Broad's most decisive spell of them all. This was Australia's ultimate humiliation - a beating as raw and ridiculed as the 5-0 larruping that it avenged from 18 months earlier. The Ashes innings that could even fit in a Tweet. It began at the beginning - in the first over of the contest, as Chris Rogers and Steven Smith poked seaming monsters to the slips - and escalated quickly, as a thousand Ron Burgundy memes would soon attest. Before Australia could draw breath, they were 10 for 3, then 15 for 4, then 21 for 5, as Ben Stokes at fifth slip (count them...) produced the moment of the series, a staggering one-handed pluck, reaching backwards as he did so, that left Broad so incredulous that all he could do was cover his mouth as his eyes popped out of their sockets. Australia limped to 60 all out in the space of 18.3 overs. The Ashes surrendered before lunch on the opening day.
For a man who has often been likened to Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter films, Broad certainly knows how to put a bit of Avada Kedavra into his spells. This epic, his first of the kind overseas but just the latest of his series-stealing performances, not only derailed a keenly fought contest in which any fourth-innings total of note was destined to prove a tough chase, it brought a crushing and decisive end to South Africa's proud stint as the world No.1 Test side. For once it took Broad an over or two to find his proper range, but as soon as Dean Elgar fenced a seaming lifter to the keeper, the rest came meekly. From first wicket to fifth, he needed 31 balls at the cost of a solitary single - and that only arose thanks to a shelled catch in the slips. Along the way, he rampaged past Bob Willis's tally of 325 Test wickets to take his place at third on England's all-time list. Seven-and-a-half years later, he would bow out with close to twice that number of victims.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket