How the out of form Stuart Broad regained his mojo

New Zealand v England - 2nd Test: Day 3

England fast bowler Stuart Broad took 6 wickets in the first innings of the second test against New Zealand at Christchurch to give a crucial 29 run lead for his team. Having lost the first Test in the two-match series, Broad's 6 for 54 gave a hope for England to level the series.

Just a week back in the first Test at Auckland, Broad became the second Englishman after his new-ball partner James Anderson, to go past 400 wickets in the 5-day format of the game.

End of a lean spell

Before finding his bowling rhythm and form at Christchurch, the tall Englishman had suffered a prolonged phase to patchy form. In the last 12 Test matches before this series against New Zealand, he took just 31 wickets each one costing 38.8 runs.

His form was particularly bad during the recently concluded Ashes. Throughout the series, Broady appeared clueless about what to do to get his next wicket. He finished the series with just 11 wickets from 5 matches at a mediocre average of 47, as his team received a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of a dominant Australian side.

As expected, questions were raised about his place in the team. One more failure would have been enough for a big damage to happen for the till now successful career.

An exponent of Swing and Seam

Broad made his debut in 2007 as a bowling all-rounder. With his 6'5" frame helping naturally to get good bounce, he gained mastery in the art of swing and seam bowling, which made him lethal in English conditions. In 64 Tests played at home, he has bagged 252 wickets with an impressive average of 27.

Some of the most notable performances in English conditions have been 6 for 46 (including a hat-trick) against India at Nottingham in 2011, 6 for 25 against the same opponents at Manchester in 2014, 8 for 15 against Australia at Nottingham in 2015 and 7 for 44 against NZ at Lord's in 2013.

Australia v England - First Test: Day 2

The lanky Englishman has been very successful on the seamer-friendly surfaces of New Zealand and South Africa as well, averaging just above 26 in 15 matches. But surprisingly, he has been found wanting in slower and spin friendly pitches. In 11 Tests played in the Indian subcontinent, his returns have been very modest, 21 wickets at an average of 50.

Partnering Jimmy

Since the beginning of this decade, Broad has been sharing the new ball with fellow English paceman James Anderson. They complement each other well especially when they are operating with the new ball.

The pair have been a formidable force in swinging conditions, troubling the top order batsmen more occasionally, with swing and seam display at both ends of the wicket.

WA XI v England - Two Day Tour Match
Anderson and Broad

With Jimmy already in 500+ wicket club, England can now boast of a new ball pair with the combined experience of 250+ Tests and 900+ wickets, which none of the contemporary Test playing nations have in their kitty.

New Heights in Sight

In the ongoing Christchurch Test, Broady went a position up on the list of top Test wicket-takers going past the legendary West Indian bowler Curtly Ambrose. If the lanky Englishman remains fit and maintains good form in the forthcoming English summer, he may easily break into Top 10.

The Nottingham born is still 31; he has a chance to play for another 4-5 years. With form and fitness remaining favourable, he may end up retiring as the highest wicket-taker in the longest format among fast bowlers.

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