Stuart Broad became the seventh bowler, and only the fourth pacer, to join the elite club of 500-plus wicket-takers in Test cricket on Tuesday. Of the seven, he is the second-youngest to the mark at 34 years and 32 days. Only Muttiah Muralitharan was younger when he got there (31 years, 334 days). That aside, what makes Broad so special, what are the specific aspects of his career that stand out? Here’s a look. (All stats updated till the end of the third Test between England and West Indies.)
Master of the big hauls
When Broad is in the mood, he can be unstoppable. He has made a habit of taking wickets in bunches, often causing collapses by running through sides while conceding very few runs. In ten of his 18 five-wicket hauls, he has conceded fewer than ten runs per wicket. Among bowlers with 15-plus five-fors, only three – Shaun Pollock (11 out of 16), Alec Bedser (9 out of 15) and Bob Willis (9 out of 16) have a higher percentage of five-fors in which they averaged less than ten than Broad does.
Broad strikes at 19.1 balls per wicket in his five-wicket hauls. Among 77 bowlers who have taken ten-plus five-fors, only Vernon Philander has a better strike rate (16.9 in 13 five-fors). For six-wicket hauls, Broad has the best average (7.59) and strike rate (17.1) among the 26 bowlers to have taken eight or more such hauls.
Broad’s returns of 6 for 31 in the first innings of this Old Trafford Test against West Indies was the fourth time he picked up a six-for conceding less than 35 runs. Shane Warne is the only other bowler to do it four times. All these stats point at a bowler who doesn’t just take wickets, but turns matches and impacts results with his quick strikes.
Getting the big guns
As many as 13 batmen have been dismissed by Broad more often than by any other bowler in their Test careers (with a minimum of six dismissals per batsman). Those 13 names are as follows: David Warner, Michael Clarke, AB de Villiers, Ross Taylor, Chris Rogers, Hashim Amla, Shane Watson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, MS Dhoni, Tom Latham, Brendon McCullum and Kemar Roach. No other fast bowler has been the chief nemesis for so many batsmen: Dennis Lillee and James Anderson have 12 such. Among all bowlers, only Warne (25) and Muralitharan (21) are ahead of Broad.
Broad has dismissed four batsmen at least ten times: Warner (12), Clarke (11), de Villiers (10) and Taylor (10). Only five bowlers have got more batsmen out on at least ten occasions – Glenn McGrath, Kapil Dev, Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh have got five such batsmen each. Among Broad’s contemporaries, no other bowler has dismissed more than two batsmen at least ten times. Anderson has dismissed only one batsman more than ten times (Peter Siddle, on 11 occasions).
Overall, Broad has dismissed 17 batsmen at least six times in Tests, of which only two are specialist bowlers: Johnson and Roach. Only four of the other 15 batsmen/wicketkeeper-batsmen average more than 30 against him. Among the batsmen who average less than 25 against him are de Villiers, Ajinkya Rahane, Taylor, Younis Khan and Clarke. That is a pretty handy list of bunnies for any bowler.
Getting better with age
Going into the West Indies second innings, Broad’s career average was 28.1. His haul of 4 for 36 in the second innings means his career average is now 27.94 – it is the first time in 140 Tests that his average has dipped below 28.
In the first 52 Tests of his career (till the end of 2012), Broad averaged an unremarkable 31.93, taking 172 wickets in those matches. Since then, his average has improved to 25.86, and he concedes fewer than 32 runs per wicket in every country where he has played at least two Tests except Australia, where he averages 34.46.
In home conditions, Broad is truly a giant, taking 321 wickets at 25.91. Among fast bowlers, only Anderson has more home wickets with 373, while McGrath is next with 289. In his last eight home Tests, Broad has taken 46 wickets at 18.84, while his average in 2020 is a stunning 13.88. All of which suggests that at the ripe young age of 34, Broad’s best is probably yet to come.
With inputs from Shiva Jayaraman