STUART BROAD insists his time is about to come again soon – whether or not Joe Root wants him to continue opening the bowling for England.
Broad, just one wicket short of 400 in Tests as a two-match series against New Zealand begins in Auckland this week, still regards himself as a “streak bowler” who changes games in unstoppable spells.
It is a characteristic which has defined the majority of his stellar Test career, yet has been absent for the past two years.
Not since his match and series-winning 6-17 against South Africa in January 2016 has he been close to his brilliant best.
But this is the man who famously clinched the Ashes in a session with his remarkable 8-15 at Trent Bridge in 2015 – and after a month-long self-tutorial in the Nottingham indoor nets, he is convinced he remains capable of similar deeds.
Broad laboured through England’s 4-0 Ashes defeat this winter, but is adamant he is back on track.
“Yes, I haven’t had that streak for a bit of time, but I do feel like my time is coming,” he said.
“Whether it’s in these two Tests or whether it’s in England, it is coming.”
At 31, some might have concluded Broad may slip into more of an enabling role – especially after Root handed the new ball in last week’s two warm-up matches in Hamilton first to Mark Wood and then Chris Woakes.
But he added: “I think once I’m gone people will look back at me as a streak bowler – someone who’s able to change momentum in games – that’s how I view myself as a cricketer. I want to be the person you turn to when you need something exciting to happen – let’s try and break this Test match open.
I want to be the person you turn to when you need something exciting to happen – let’s try and break this Test match open.England’s Stuart Broad
“That’s how I’ve played my cricket, and (it) actually influenced some of the changes I made in February.”
While England were still away playing limited-overs cricket against Australia and New Zealand, Broad was hard at work trying to re-groove his action and methods.
“I wanted to get back to the feel of cricket because I am a ‘feel’ cricketer. I’ve got that buzz back,” he said. “It’s where I need to be as a cricketer, and I hope that will come to fruition in the foreseeable future.”
It may not be with the new ball here – although Broad reports, after a conversation with coach Trevor Bayliss, that issue is still up in the air.
“I’ve just spoken to Trev, and certainly no decision has been made for Thursday,” he said. “But either way, I think the first-change bowler will be on within eight overs anyway.”
Broad has bought into a new fluidity of plans as England try to address their poor Test form of late away from home.
“It’s that sort of thinking that’s coming into the bowling group rather than just ‘these two blokes have to take the same new ball – that’s how the mantra works’,” he said. “We’re going to try and be a bit more flexible.
“We’re just trying to find ways to improve really – because there’s no hiding place from the fact away from home we haven’t got it right.”
What of that all-important next wicket, though?
It will be a proud achievement, albeit one Broad wishes had come round just that little bit quicker.
“I’m desperate to get 400 – but regardless of the individual wickets, I think over a long period of time it’s proof that I’ve put a lot of dedication into it,” he added.
“Of course, it would be a very nice club to join – but it’s been a long time coming over the last six months.”
Nottinghamshire all-rounder Paul Coughlin is likely to miss “a big chunk of the season” as he is to have surgery on the right shoulder he injured while on England Lions duty.
Coughlin joined Nottinghamshire from Durham on a three-year deal last September, butlanded awkwardly while fielding in the Lions’ unofficial one-day international against West Indies in Antigua on March 11.
No fixed date has been set for his return although Nottinghamshire head coach Peter Moores anticipates a fairly lengthy recovery period once the 25-year-old has had an operation on Wednesday.
Moores said: “It’s obviously a very serious injury and we are not going to see him for a while, but in physio James Pipe and all the medical staff he’s in the best hands, and hopefully the surgery goes well.
“He’s got a fairly long journey back to fitness and we all feel for him because he’d just joined a new club and made a really good impression in terms of his ability and how he’s been around the other lads.
“I’m sure he will commit everything to the rehab which he will have to do, and realistically there is going to be a big chunk of the season which he is going to have to miss.
“We all feel for him and support him all the way through so that when he is ready to come back, he comes back with a bang because we know we are going to get a very good player.”