The fifth day of the Manchester Test was more about Stuart Broad's feat with the question being when, and not if that elusive wicket will come his way. A Windies downfall on the final day, and against the new cherry, was written on the wall. Hence, even much before the start of day 5 and all through the rain-washed day 4, all English cricket could talk about was Broad's career 500th wicket. And less than 30 minutes of action on the rain-interrupted fifth morning, James Anderson welcomed Broad into the elite club. Trapping Kraigg Brathwaite with that incoming delivery in line with the middle stump, Broad, who was left "angry and gutted" over his omission from the Southampton opener, had his 500th wicket.
Broad became the seventh bowler, fourth seamer, second from England, second-youngest (at 34 years and 32 days, only behind Muttiah Muralitharan who was 31 years old at the time of his achievement) and the slowest (in terms of matches) to the feat. But there are more to these numbers that make his feat so special.
Among the greats...
Broad has 18 career five-wicket hauls, which places him at the 16th position among bowlers in Test cricket history. But he has only the second-best strike rate among pacers who have taken at least 10 fifers in Test cricket, conceding at 19.1 balls per wicket, only bettered by South Africa's Vernon Philander, who has strike rate of 16.9 in his career 13 fifers. And he averages the least and has the best strike rate - 7.59 and 17.1 respectively - among 26 bowlers who have bagged at least eight six-wicket hauls in their career.
Broad's ability to make a quick impact on his days, like his figures in the first innings in this ongoing Manchester Test, makes him the only fast bowler to take 13 fifers in a day's play, with his day 3 feat surpassing the tally of 11 amassed by Anderson.
Tales of bunnies...
Broad has dismissed four batsmen more than 10 times, his most famous being Australia's David Warner, against whom he picked seven of them last summer. However, New Zealand's Ross Taylor averages the least from the batters he has dismissed at least eight times while his dismissal per match rate is highest against South Africa's AB de Villiers. Overall, he has dismissed 13 batsmen at least six times, of which, only Kemar Roach and Mitchell Johnson are bowlers and seven are top-order batters and remaining are middle-order
|DA Warner (AUS)||23||12||0.521739||20.41||3|
|MJ Clarke (AUS)||22||11||0.5||33.81||0|
|LRPL Taylor (NZ)||16||10||0.625||13||2|
|AB de Villiers (SA)||14||10||0.714286||48.8||2|
|SPD Smith (AUS)||24||8||0.333333||29.87||0|
|HM Amla (SA)||18||8||0.444444||58.75||0|
|SR Watson (AUS)||16||8||0.5||54.25||0|
|CJL Rogers (AUS)||15||8||0.533333||33.75||1|
Besides the eight batsmen mentioned below, Broad's bunny list also includes - Mitchell Johnson, MS Dhoni, Tom Latham, Brendon McCullum and Kemar Roach - taking his tally to 13 batsmen who have been dismissed the most number of times in their career by no other bowler than Broad. According to ESPNCricinfo, he is the only fast bowler to have 13 bunnies on his career list, standing one ahead of Dennis Lillee and James Anderson, both of whom have 12 apiece.
Ageing like fine wine...
A statistical breakdown of his Test career shows that Broad is enjoying the best moments of his career. He did show improvement in between 2013 and 2016, averaging 25.56, but his strike rate since that career-changing New Zealand tour in 2018 has been the best ever.
|2017- Apr 2018||14||25||42||33.5||2.79||71.8||1||0|
|Apr 2018- to date||24||47||91||22.98||2.83||48.6||2||1|
One of the major reasons behind his massive transformation from a period of downfall (2016 to 2018) has been the adjustment he made to his length. Since Joe Root's insistence ahead of the Hagley Oval tie in 2018. Broad has been pitching the ball 41 cms fuller and the results were impressive ever since. Broad now has 91 wickets in 24 Tests at 22.98 - the most in the world in the period. Moreover, his wickets have come at a price of almost six runs less than Anderson's scalps. At home, Broad has 67 wickets in 15 matches during the period - highest for any England bowler - and at an average only a tad more than Anderson's.
Not just length, another aspect that has been key in Broad's recent success has been his ability to hit the stumps more often than ever. Between 2016 and 2017, 29 per cent of Broad's dismissal were either lbw or bowled, which increased to 53.73 per cent since the tour of New Zealand in 2018. He has, over time, also joined the new bandwagon of bowlers attacking the left-handed batsman from around the wicket which he displayed during the Ashes series at home last summer, harassing David Warner from around the corner. Broad now averages 6.44 against southpaws as against his 19.60 in the period before.
The Anderson question...
At the onset of his downfall, many began wondering if Broad, who through the major part of his career remained under the shadows of the brilliance of Anderson, had a future in England's pace bowling lineup. In the 25 Tests he played between 2016 and 2017, Broad picked 78 wickets at 30.21. 45 of those scalps were from the 14 home Tests, coming at 29.88 an average. In both the categories, he was England's second-highest wicket-taker behind James Anderson, clearly implying that the veteran was always the one to rely on. Anderson averaged 14.60 at home in picking 60 wickets in the 13 Tests. The period ended with England's 4-0 humiliation in Australia in the Ashes and management questioned the idea of having Broad alongside Anderson for the next Ashes at home.
But his immense rise over the last two years, especially after his 10-fer in Manchester on Tuesday, en route to the elite club, Broad has ascertained that he can leave behind a legacy, probably at par with Anderson. Not just so, the veteran has even backed the 34-year-old to eventually break his wicket tally. He now stands 88 wickets behind Anderson's tally of 589.