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Stuart Broad says he considered retiring from Test cricket after being left out of the England side for their first game of the summer against West Indies at the Ageas Bowl.
On that occasion, England went with Mark Wood and Jofra Archer for “another dimension” offered by their express pace, along with Broad’s new-ball partner James Anderson. The Nottinghamshire quick said during the Test that he was “angry” and “frustrated” at the decision, and responded in spectacular fashion, taking 16 wickets in the second and third Tests, both won by England, to be named Player of the Series.
However, as he told the Daily Mail, Broad’s initial reaction was not to be energised, but to feel “exhausted” at once again having to prove his doubters wrong, and he opened up on how he felt “really low” watching on as a spectator during the first Test, with him having to stay in England’s bio-bubble exacerbating his hurt feelings.
“I have not really told anyone this but I was so down that week of the first Test,” Broad said. “I was really low. I was stuck in that hotel. I couldn’t go anywhere. It wasn’t like I could go back to Mollie [King, his partner] and have a barbeque and chill out and reassess. I wasn’t playing, I was staying in a single room. I didn’t sleep for two days. I was nowhere. A different decision could definitely have been made with my emotions of how I was feeling.”
Broad confirmed he considered quitting the game entirely after being snubbed.
“Were there thoughts of retirement going round my head? One hundred per cent,” Broad said. “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.
“It’s not like I can move from Man United to LA Galaxy. If you are not playing for England, you are not playing for England. You always catastrophise when you are in a hotel room on your own. You are sat alone in a room and it feels worse than it is. The cold facts were I had been left out of one game and I would probably play the next but my mind wasn’t thinking like that.
“I can’t think of many times I have been down like that. When I have been dropped before, I can go ‘Fair enough, good decision, can’t really argue with that’. This time, when Stokesy [Ben Stokes, England’s captain for the first Test] told me I wasn’t playing, I felt my body go into shakes. I could barely speak. It was a different situation.”
Strangely, Broad said it was also Stokes who helped lift him “out of a bit of a rut”.
“Because I have got such a good support network around me, my mum, dad, sister, Mollie, that helped me through,” he 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.”
Broad became the fourth fast bowler to reach the milestone of 500 Test wickets during the third Test, and while he said he has “never set particular targets”, feels he could reach the milestone of 600 Test wickets.
“Could I get 600? Absolutely I think I could. Jimmy was 35 and one month when he got 500. I was 34 and one month. Jimmy is now within touching distance of 600. So stats wise, absolutely. I’m actually more concerned with how to try to wrap a bubble around this rhythm and momentum I have got as a cricketer right now.”