Stuart Broad has stated his commitment to carrying on playing until at least the 2019 home Ashes series after moving ahead of Sir Ian Botham into second place on England’s all-time list of Test wicket-takers.
In terms of Englishmen, only James Anderson, with 492, now has more Test scalps than Broad’s 384 after the 31-year-old took five wickets during the three-day rout of West Indies at Edgbaston.
Both will be crucial to their country’s Ashes chances in Australia this winter, a campaign that promises to offer a rather more formidable challenge than the one West Indies presented during their innings-and-209 run defeat in the first day-night Test in this country.
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That Broad is aiming to face Australia again on home soil in 2019 should come as no surprise.
But, after Anderson, 35, stated earlier this summer his determination to carry on until that series, the prospect of having their two most prolific bowlers in history available for another two years will delight England.
“I’m 31 now and still feel like I have quite a bit of cricket left in me,” said Broad. “I’m loving the energy around this team, I’m loving being part of it. I’ve hopefully, touch wood, got a few more miles in the tank.”
Asked whether that meant he would be around for 2019, Broad answered: “Oh God, yes, I hope so. I’ll be just turned 33. Jimmy is 35 so I’d certainly hope my performances will keep improving to be a part of that Ashes for sure.
Broad excelled as England demolished the West Indies inside three days ( Getty)
“I’m not someone who looks too far ahead because I think it slows you down as a performer. This winter is a hugely exciting one because I think that series is going to be a belter with two teams that look really similar. But obviously I have hunger to go further than that.”
Despite his advancing years, Anderson’s form this summer has been stunning, following up his 20 wickets at 14.10 during England’s 3-1 series win against South Africa with another five at Edgbaston.
“To be fair, Jimmy is bowling as well as I’ve seen him bowl,” said Broad. “He’s turned 35 but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him challenge both sides of the bat as consistently as he has done this summer. “Fielding at mid-on and mid-off to him, I feel like he is in the game all the time. He’s not bowling bad balls, he looks in a rhythm that’s awesome. Long may that continue.
“Look, he’s going to be crucial for our chances this winter, for sure, and hopefully he can keep that rhythm going because he is picking up wickets at a huge speed at the moment and, not only will he be looking at 500 wickets, he’ll be looking way past that the way he is going.”
Broad moved to second in the all-time list of England wicket-takers (AFP)
Broad and Anderson now have 876 Test wickets between them, with the combined target of 1,000 now in reach if both do carry on for a couple more years.
There are certainly plenty more to come in the final two Tests against a febrile West Indies, with England naming an unchanged squad for next match at Headingley starting on Friday.
However, does Broad see himself still playing for England at the age of 35 like his good friend and new-ball partner?
“You don’t know if you’ll have the luck with injuries, you don’t know how the body will feel,” he says. “I play cricket for the competitive side of it. I love that feeling of being in a battle, I love that competitive spirit and that’s the reason I play. I’ll play as long as that competitive spirit and drive is there because that’s what gets me up in the morning. That desire and competitive spirit certainly is still within me now. I’ve always been honest with myself – as soon as that goes, I’ll know that I’m gone.”
Broad moved ahead of Sir Ian Botham in the all-time list ( Getty)
That competitive spirit was certainly fired by surpassing a man in Botham who he dreamed of emulating as a child and who presented him with his Test cap on debut against Sri Lanka in Colombo a decade ago.
Broad, whose father Chris was part of England’s 1986-87 Ashes-winning team in Australia along with Botham, said: “Beefy is someone who has been a big influence on me. Obviously, playing with my dad and watching some of his performances against Australia, he is a huge legend of English cricket but someone who has given a lot back to this team, actually.
“I was very fortunate to get my Test cap off him back in 2007. He is someone who in the past couple of years has spent more and more time in the changing room and the guys really listen to him. He is someone who has an influence on us the way he performed against Australia. Any performances against Australia are held in such high regard and he has been an influence on me wanting to perform against them.”
Botham has five Ashes series wins, but England will hope Broad, who already has four, will now be inspired to surpass him once again come 2019.