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England v West Indies

‘I could barely speak’ — How Stokes motivated a dejected Broad after Southampton snub

Broad Stokes
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Stuart Broad has revealed that he contemplated retirement after being dropped for the Southampton Test against West Indies last month, “going into shakes” when stand-in skipper Ben Stokes informed him about the decision.

Broad ended with the most wickets by anyone in the three-Test series, 16, despite missing out on the first game, during which he had expressed his “anger, frustration and disappointment” at the decision.

Now, speaking to Daily Mail, Broad has revealed that he was “so down” after the exclusion that he “could barely speak” and didn’t sleep for two days, but bounced back after the tremendous support system around him, as well as words of encouragement from Stokes.

“I have not really told anyone this but I was so down that week of the first Test. I was really low. I was stuck in that hotel. I couldn’t go anywhere,” Broad said.

“Were there thoughts of retirement going round my head? One hundred per cent. Because I was so down. I was expecting to play, which is always a bit of a dangerous thing in sport but I felt I deserved to play. If I had had a different conversation with the coach the day after and the coach had said you are not in our plans… well if you are not in England’s plans when you are bowling as well as you can, you are pretty screwed.”

Through the turmoil, Broad found relief in his family’s support, helping turn his frustration into a “burning desire”, following which he made a roaring comeback for the remainder of the series, becoming only the seventh bowler to claim 500 Test wickets. He went on to mention the “brilliant” role played by Stokes, whose words “almost lifted me out of a bit of a rut”.

“But because I have got such a good support network around me, my mum, dad, sister, Mollie, that helped me through,” Broad said. “And Stokesy was brilliant. Stokesy knocked on my door on the Thursday night and stayed in the corridor to talk to me. He said: ‘This isn’t about cricket, but how are you, mate?’ That was very impressive for him to do.

“In this modern world, sometimes face-to-face comfort can get lost. I have always had a huge amount of respect for Stokes and I will be friends with him for life, but what he did almost added to that. He is captain of the game, he has got a hell of a lot going on this week but he has taken the time to come and see how I am, which almost lifted me out of a bit of a rut.”

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