On Saturday 29th July 2023, Stuart Broad announced his retirement from cricket, at stumps, on day three of the fifth Ashes test, partway through a ninth wicket stand with his old side-kick and mate James Anderson still besides him at the crease, midst a vital match at the Oval, one which England felt they could go on to win, with a healthy lead and two days remaining to try and bowl out Australia in a bid to tie the series.
Broad stated “It felt like the right time” suggesting “I have played a long time, I have been bowling very well, my body feels great, I could have carried on, but I wanted to finish on a high, the Ashes at the Oval felt like a cool place to go out”.
It’s closure on one of the great sporting careers. From a child starring on the Oakham School honours board to a mop haired young promising fast pacer with Leicestershire eventually becoming a true great, bandana wearing bowling bandit with Nottinghamshire and England, when Stuart Broad walks in, you instantly look up, not just eyes drawn to his tall 6ft5in frame, but in awe of a man who’s achieved so much in the game.
One of only five bowlers to take 600 test wickets behind iconic legends that include Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Shane Warne (708), Jimmy Anderson (690) and Anil Kumble (619), Broad with 602 scalps is only the second paceman ever to surpass such figures, he like bacon and red sauce, sausage with brown, Cannon with Ball, will always be associated as one half of England’s greatest ever seam attack.
Whilst 41-year-old Anderson who celebrates his birthday today (July 30), has no intentions of retiring just yet, Broad (37) has felt now is the right time, after a super series personally in which he’s again England’s leading wicket taker with twenty Aussie scalps. In fact, Broad despite way down on the career total wickets tally to his partner Anderson who has played 182 tests to date, Broad in 166 tests with an average of 27.7 has actually fared better against the Aussies, and down under is regarded as the most lethal of the two, with a much better record than his partner in crime when it comes to Ashes matches.
From refusing to walk in 2013 to that 8-15 in 2015, even during his last match, changing the bails a ball before Marnus Labuschagne edged Mark Wood to Joe Root, his skulduggery edging the boundaries of ‘spirit of the game’ with ‘complete shithousery’, he’s always been Australia’s English villain number one.
That said, as a much detested pantomime villain down under, he’s also the player Australia have frequently most feared, the one true great they often expect to take England’s wickets, just ask Dave Warner who more than anyone, has suffered the fate of Stuart Broad no less than twenty times.
The match winning performance at Trent Bridge where he took 8-15 as Australia were bowled out for 60 during a devastating spell on his home turf, unquestionably the best-ever performance by Broad, arguably the best ever performance by an English bowler, the only Englishman to take two test hat-tricks, many will remember the hat-trick at Trent Bridge against India, when on that day his unplayable fast swinging deliveries lifted the roof off the place, it seemed he always saved his best for his home town Nottingham crowd.
Broad of course is the son of an Ashes Legend in father Chris who also played for Notts and England, cricket is in his DNA but he’s also a hugely passionate Forest fan, engaged to former Saturday’s singer Mollie King he now lives the superstar life in London and has an MBE for his services to the game, a T20 World Cup winner he has also been part of a Nottinghamshire side that has won County Championships, Vitality Blasts and One Day Cup Finals, but with England, and with the Test team in particular, he has excelled into one true great, a four times Ashes winner, more important than anything to him, Broad has 151 Ashes wickets, more than any other Englishman by some 23 scalps, Ian Botham in second on 128, Jimmy Anderson in third way back with 117.
If he saved his best for Australia, he certainly picked his moment to draw curtain on a fabulous career, the right time to go? I’m sure Broad could have played on for many more years to come, but one who’s future is as bright now he’s retired as it was as a player, no doubt the stardom continues, his intelligent and insightful cricket commentary a shoe in for a major role in the TV punditary box, but a young father and husband to be will now be grateful of those upcoming Christmas and New Years holidays off, rather than touring the sub-continent and Australasia in hotel box rooms, he can now enjoy the future of winters with his family, he also says he can now enjoy the summers by “spending more time on the golf course”.
When it comes to true legends of the game, Stuart Broad’s name will always be high up on the English supporters list of those greats of any eras, and those very supporters, like me, will be always thankful for the incredible career he dedicated to the sport he loved, and the success he brought whilst playing for Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and England.
After 17 years playing international cricket it’s going to be strange seeing a test team finally line up without him, as England Cricket’s Twitter page acknowledged his greatness today, I’ll leave you with their words, “Stuart Broad – for everything, thank you.”
*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).
*Main image @TrentBridge Stuart Broad retires on his 167th test against Australia at the Oval.