STUART BROAD: on his SPOTY nomination and England career
STUART BROAD: I thought my career with England was over at the beginning of the summer when I wasn’t selected to face the West Indies – now I’m on the SPOTY shortlist!
- Stuart Broad is on the shortlist the Sports Personality of the year Award
- Ben Stokes, Andrew Flintoff and Ian Botham have all previously won the prize
- Broad has been working on his running technique to maintain performance level
- The England bowler will adapt his personal targets for Sri Lanka tour next year
To be selected on the shortlist of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year is a real honour. To be honest, it is not one of the goals you have in mind when you set out on a career, but it is one that means you have had a pretty successful time of things on the field.
For me, though, 2020 has been a strange year and not only because we have mostly played cricket in biosecure environments.
When I got left out of the first Test of the summer against West Indies in July, it led to me asking myself some serious questions. I felt my career was going nowhere and at that point, I wondered, ‘If I am not selected to play in a home Test match in Southampton, where am I going to play?’
England bowler Stuart Broad is in the running to win the sports personality of the year award
So to be able to bounce back from that and bowl as well as I have done since fills me with pride.
I’ve always known that I like a challenge. You don’t survive in international sport for as long as I have if you don’t stand up to them but it had got to a stage where I was thinking, ‘This could be pretty much over’ when it came to playing cricket for England.
Then, when we turned up for the next game, three bowlers ended up missing out — Mark Wood and Jimmy Anderson needed resting, and Jofra Archer broke the bio-secure bubble protocols.
Generally it’s the case that you ask a team who have lost to put things right and if all three of them had been fine, then I am not sure I would be in this position as one of six candidates for the SPOTY award on December 20.
Broad with England team mate Jimmy Anderson playing against Pakistan in August this year
If I hadn’t been selected in that next game, I wouldn’t have had the chance to put those things right. In that case, we might have been looking at a very different proposition.
From the moment I did get selected for the second Test, I wanted people to know that they could bank on me. That I would be on the money. But my experiences of July and August just goes to show what a fine line there is between success and failure.
From considering that my international career could be behind me, I can now reflect upon a rewarding spell of 29 wickets in five subsequent Tests, lots of runs too and a confidence that I can continue to succeed at this level for three or four more years.
One of the reasons I have always been aware of SPOTY is because my coach at Oakham School was none other than David Steele, ‘the bank clerk who went to war’ with Australia’s fabled fast bowlers and won the award in 1975.
Andrew Flintoff is one of only three cricketers to have won Sports Personality of The Year
From the world of cricket, only Sir Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff and last year’s choice, Ben Stokes, have won it since. I also accompanied Jimmy Anderson to the ceremony at the NEC when he got nominated in 2018 and it was a fantastic experience. I loved being there by his side that night. I felt very proud of him and what he’d achieved.
Watching videos of his successes was really special, and whether you make the top three or even go on to win doesn’t really matter. It’s a sign of a really good sporting year just to get nominated.
Although the news was announced on Radio One on Wednesday, I found out a couple of days earlier but was asked to keep it to myself.
Cue an awkward set of text messages between my girlfriend Mollie and her colleague Greg James prior to him and Joe Wicks announcing it on the breakfast show. At one stage during the miscommunication, Greg thought he’d accidentally spilled the beans but after receiving a message from him to flick on the radio just after 9.30am, I sat on my hands in my car — after doing some early-morning running at Loughborough — to listen in.
Broad (with girlfriend Mollie King) was worried news of nomination might be revealed early
Since the start of November I have been part of an England training group, bowling in a heated tent at the university, and in the circumstances of this Covid pandemic, preparation has been as good for the tours of the new year as we could possibly have had.
I’ve been working with Phil Scott, the ECB’s strength and conditioning coach, on my running technique. Phil’s really helped me get a better rhythm in my bowling action by ensuring that upon contact with the ground the ball of my foot is in its most powerful position — that allows my run-up to be lots of sharp and energetic strides.
In turn, that makes me stand taller at the crease when releasing the ball, maintains my rhythm and keeps my pace. That’s been important to me because I made a pledge two years ago that when I go to Australia in 2021, I would avoid people saying: ‘Ooh, he’s 35 now, look at him, he’s only bowling 79 miles per hour.’
A more immediate goal, however, is to win in Sri Lanka, where we head on January 2. We know only a 2-0 series result will do if we want to retain a chance of playing in the final of the World Test Championship next June.
Broad has been working on running technique whilst bowling and has made notable changes
On a personal level, playing in Sri Lanka will mean adapting my personal targets and expectations. From experience, it could be that I take one for 45 off 25 overs and that is viewed as a job well done.
The last time we went there in 2018, and won the Test series 3-0, the ball turned sharply and 220 was a good score, with the seamers simply playing a holding role for the spinners to attack.
I have also been on tours there when pitches have nibbled with the new ball and in that case you’ve got to strike with it.
Jonny Bairstow in action against Sri-Lanka back in 2018, when England won the series 3-0
Being able to adapt is a challenge of international cricket in the modern era.
If it is fast-forward cricket in Sri Lanka, on difficult batting pitches, that’s fine. We will play that style.
Equally, if it is more the template that is used in India of putting 500 runs on the board, and looking to secure victory in the final hour of the fifth day, so be it.
We have a team who are now brilliant at communicating, and one who played some really good cricket the last time we were together. I look forward to playing my part in more of the same.
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