England leaving both Stuart Broad and James Anderson out of their tour to the West Indies was a shock. Interim Director of the ECB, Andrew Strauss tried to explain that the door wasn’t closed for either of them and that he wanted to see who would step up to the plate when they finally retire. One thing it has shown us is that England miss their bowling. They have struggled in both Tests so far. On flat pitches, when the ball isn’t doing much, wouldn’t you love to have one or both of them to turn to…but this is the new normal. Life without Broad and Anderson, I have for one will greatly miss them when they are finally gone for good.
Both Stuart Broad and James Anderson have found themselves dropped before, due to injury and perceived lack of form, but never it such brutal fashion as Strauss dished out. Both cricketers are in the twilight of their careers and we potentially will never see them bowl together again…Jesus Christ, I hope not!
Any cricket fan, under the age of 15 must think these types of bowlers come along all the time. But just like the 10 year old me, thought that Man Utd would win the Premier League forever, I am afraid that isn’t the case.
Over the past 15 years, Broad and Anderson have played over 120 Tests together and have taken an over 900 wickets, whilst playing in the same team. Individually, Anderson has over 600 test wickets and Broad over 500. They have taken more than Darren Gough, Andy Caddick, Jim Laker, Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff combined. That’s unbelievable.
At 40, Anderson is the older of the two. He has taken more wickets than any other fast bowler in Test history, beating the likes of Glenn McGrath, Dale Steyn and Courtney Walsh. His career hasn’t been the smoothest though. He burst on the scene in 2003, taking 5 wickets in his Test debut against Zimbabwe. Then came a period of relative obscurity, as Anderson struggled to hold down a regular Test spot. The England coaching team tried to change his action, so his head remained upright when delivering the ball. This proved to be a massive waste of time and once they stopped messing around with him, Anderson started to deliver wicket after wicket and never looked back.
Broad too, has had a rocky road to All-time England great. Son of former England regular, Chris Broad, he was a batsman in his youth, a decent player but not near the standard required for International Cricket. At age of 17, following a late but substantial growth spurt, Broad turned his hand to fast bowling and thank god he did. He first broke into the England Test side in 2007 and since then has been a constant figure for his country.
Over the years there have been some formidable bowling partnerships that have struck fear into opposing batsman. Growing up, I can remember the likes of Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh ripping through many a batting line up. I can also recall Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis working together in a terrifyingly effective partnership. However, in terms of figures, Broad and Anderson sit above them all. They have consistently taken wickets, all over the world, and there has never been a fast bowling partnership better.
With young pretenders such as, Jofra Archer and Olly Robinson coming up behind them, I am sure England will still have a decent attack when these two finally hang up their bowling boots, but we will never see anything like them again. It’s like Gazza and Bobby Charlton playing in the same team at the same time.
With a busy summer coming up and a chance to win back the Ashes in a couple of years time, I sincerely hope they stay fit and bowl like we know they can.
Just like Alistair Cook before them, once they are gone, I’ll wish I had appreciated them more when they were here. So please don’t go retiring just yet.
Written by Jack Lennie