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Stuart Broad says he is bowling “as well as ever” after he took his 500th Test wicket as England wrapped up a series victory against West Indies at Emirates Old Trafford.
Broad, 34, who was not selected for the first Test of the series, which West Indies won, has played a key role in England’s 2-1 Wisden Trophy success.
“I’ve done some technical work and changed my run-up in the last 18 months and I think I am feeling the benefits and getting the rewards for that,” said Broad.
“I’m challenging the stumps. I mentally try to make the batsman play as much as possible and I actually judge myself on that so I think that’s a tactical thing that’s taken me to a really exciting level.”
The right-arm seamer has taken 84 Test wickets at an average of 23.23 since the start of last summer’s Ashes – the joint most in Test cricket alongside Australia’s Nathan Lyon.
His average to get from 400 to 500 Test wickets, 22.7, is the best 100-wicket block of his career.
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Broad became the seventh player in history to take 500 Test wickets and only 37-year-old team-mate James Anderson, who has 589, Australia’s Glenn McGrath (563) and Courtney Walsh (519) have taken more as pace bowlers.
At 34, Broad could eclipse them all and the Nottingham-born quick does not believe fitness will be an issue.
“I feel fit, my fitness testing post lockdown was the best it’s ever been,” he said.
“I feel excited. I’m really enjoying playing around this group.
“You know what, why not try and follow in Jimmy’s footsteps? He’s been wonderful to play with.
“I don’t feel like I’m the old outcast and I feel like Jimmy feels exactly the same.”
Broad was left out of the first Test defeat at the Ageas Bowl, a decision he said made him “angry, frustrated and gutted”, but he came back into the side for the 113 and 269-run wins in the second and third Tests at Emirates Old Trafford.
“I’m hugely competitive. I want to be involved in Test wins and I think that helps me stand up in pressurised situations,” Broad added.
“I’ve never shied away from intimidating moments in Test matches, in any sort of cricket, I really enjoy moments when the game needs changing.
“I want to be the person that gets thrown the ball or the bat when we need to change the momentum of a game.”
England captain Joe Root called Broad’s achievement “incredible” and praised his worth ethic.
“I was training with him in lockdown at Trent Bridge and watching all the hard work he’s been putting in and all the skills, even now, that he’s been developing,” Root said.
“To see that hard work pay off, I’m really pleased for him.
“For Stuart to come in after the first Test and make this impact on the series over two games is a testament to how good a player he is.”
‘It’s been a challenge mentally’
The West Indies arrived in England on 9 June to undergo a 14-day quarantine period at Emirates Old Trafford before the three-Test series.
Batsmen Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo and all-rounder Keemo Paul decided not to travel, with the number of coronavirus deaths and confirmed cases far higher in the UK than the Caribbean.
The 39-person touring party has been unable to leave the bio-secure bubble set up by the England and Wales Cricket Board in Southampton and Manchester, and the Windies captain Jason Holder said that has been challenging for his side.
“It was definitely hard staying in the same environment and not being able to leave,” Holder told Test Match Special. “It’s been a challenge mentally.
“But we’re thankful we were able to play some cricket and hopefully we can play some more at the end of the year.
“I’m looking forward to going home – it’s been a while and I want to see the family again.”