Stuart Broad is gearing up to “go to battle” with long-time adversary David Warner in this summer’s Ashes, admitting he cannot kick his addiction to Test cricket.
Broad and Warner have faced off against each in 26 Tests dating back to 2013, with the Englishman dismissing the Australian 14 times – more than any other bowler on the planet.
Exactly half of those wickets came in the 2019 Ashes, when Broad swarmed the left-hander and removed him seven times in 10 innings as he averaged a miserable 9.5.
Broad also had the last laugh in their most recent head-to-head, condemning Warner to a duck in Hobart in a game that ended with both men pondering the end of their shared story.
They discussed the possibility over a post-series drink at the Bellerive Oval, but 18 months on they are set to slug it out again in the first Test at Edgbaston on June 16.
“I’m obviously looking forward to going to battle with Davey again. We’ve had incredible battles,” said Broad.
“I’m really looking forward to stepping on the field against him. I must admit, at the end of Hobart last time, we shared a glass of red and didn’t know if we would play against each other again. Hopefully we can.
“He had the better of me for quite a long period, got a hundred at Brisbane and at the WACA (in 2013) and, ultimately, the biggest praise I can give Davey is the fact I had to completely study him and change my style of bowling because of the success he had against me.
“He’s been a great competitor, someone I’ve really enjoyed playing against. He’s fiery, ferociously competitive, and those sorts of characters bring out the best in me as well.”
Broad readily admits the thrill of tussling with the best players the world has to offer is a habit he cannot kick, even after 161 caps and nearly 14 years at the highest level.
He accepts he is into the final chapter of his career, but while recent injury scares mean James Anderson and Ollie Robinson are both likely to be wrapped in cotton wool for next week’s Test against Ireland, Broad has made it clear he wants to lead the attack and has been invigorated by the leadership of coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes.
“What do they call it, the twilight? It’s sort of the arse end of your career, isn’t it? But I’ve still got a great hunger,” he said.
“Ultimately I play sport and cricket for the competitive side. I love that competitive drive that bowling at a batter gives you. You beat the outside edge and there’s no win in that, but then you nip one back and it goes through the gate. Those sort of feelings are so addictive to me.
“The addiction to being in this changing room is quite strong. Credit to Rob Key (director of cricket), Baz McCullum and Stokesy – they’ve made everything about playing for England 10 out of 10. I am 36 turning 37 but I have always said if my competitive burn goes then I won’t be the cricketer I am, but my competitive burn is alive.”
Broad is known for his ability to conduct the crowd during key passages of play, often rallying support at the top of his mark, and enjoys fan favourite status for his ability to wind up the Australian contingent.
He has long been rewarded with a chant of “he’s big, he’s bad, he’s better than his dad” – a reference to father Chris, a distinguished opening batter and now ICC match referee.
Chris Broad, former England cricketer, ICC match referee, and Dad to the 'NightHawk' – @StuartBroad8.
Now a proud owner of one of our NightHawk tees 🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/neqEo0TTK0
— England's Barmy Army 🏴🎺 (@TheBarmyArmy) March 30, 2023
Now the Barmy Army, together with Marmite, have ripped up the songbook and worked up a new song to the tune of Abba’s Voulez-Vous and Broad is eager to hear it belting out from the stands in the coming weeks.
“I played the song to my wife Mollie this morning. We’ve both been whistling the song all morning,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to the Barmy Army singing it for the first time. I might speak to them and time it well, maybe when I get a wicket…that first Ashes Test at Edgbaston, it’s going to be electric.
“It’s good to lift my dad’s spirits too. He’s had long enough being told I’m better than him.”