Stuart Broad, in plundering a rapid 62 runs against West Indies on Day 2 in the 3rd Test, buried some personal demons which have seemingly haunted him for the past six years.
It was in Manchester that Broad had his nose broken by a Varun Aaron bouncer in a 2014 Test, an event which he had admitted led to a drop in his confidence at the crease. It was at the same venue, fittingly, that he put on his highest score since 2013 on Saturday.
Broad’s efforts took England to a score of 369. Broad and James Anderson then dismantled the West Indies top order, with the visitors looking shaky at 137/6 at stumps on Day 2, trailing by 232 runs.
Broad’s batting record
At the beginning of Broad’s international career, he had been marked as a potential all-rounder. A century at Lord’s against Pakistan in 2010 seemed only to prove his credentials.
However, things changed dramatically in terms of Broad’s batting in the space of one over in a 2014 Test vs India. Batting at No 8 in that match, much higher than his usual position in recent years, Broad smashed consecutive sixes off India pacer Varun Aaron, before being struck on the face by a bouncer.
The blow broke his nose — requiring a surgery — and gave him a black eye. He returned with a protective face mask in the next Test, but he later admitted that the incident had left even deeper marks on him.
Before that match, Broad had 2156 Test runs from 73 matches at an average of 23.95. In 2008, his first full year of Test cricket, he had an average of 37.
Since that blow, he has 1128 Test runs from 67 matches at an average of 13.59.
“I have had nightmares about it (the Varun Aaron bouncer). I have had times when I have felt the ball just about to hit my face in the middle of the night. It has been quite tough,” Broad said at a media event in 2015.
“After my operation, I don’t know if the drugs had anything to do with it, but I would wake up feeling like a ball had hit me in the face. Even when I get tired I see balls flying at me. My jaw clicks from it. Potentially it has affected my batting, but I am working with a psychologist on focusing on my process,” he had said.
Broad suffered a run of torrid form with the bat in the next few years, being dropped down the batting order. He also faced criticism, which grew especially fervent during the 2015 World Cup, for backing away from his crease whenever a pacer was bowling.
How fun was this from @StuartBroad8!? 🔥
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 25, 2020
England’s vision of seeing Broad blossom into an all-rounder never did come about, but with his cameo with the bat on Saturday, Broad showed a glimpse of why his batting had once been highly rated.