In praise of the Stuart Broad hook shot

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There are great batsmen and there are great shots. Then there is the greatest batsman of all (Stuart Broad) and his greatest shot of all (the hook).

At this point in his career, Broad’s batting is all but flawless. Measured in conventional terms, it is of course massively flawed – but measured in entertainment terms, the most seismic of those flaws actually translate into enormous strengths.

Combining sweetly-timed drives with no defence whatsoever, there is a spiderweb fragility about every Broad innings that demands you savour each and every boundary (there are usually three of them, and no singles).

Put simply, Broad now offers the greatest density of entertainment of any batsman in Test history. And at the centre of his game is the hook shot, which he plays frequently, brilliantly and awfully.

Broad is afraid of the bouncer – terrified, in fact – so terrified, that he almost cannot help but larrup it into the stands for six. Broad is a cornered cat with the short ball, lashing out with fear in his eyes and scary retractable knives protruding from his furry frigging hands.

Watch Broad play a bouncer. Watch how quickly he’s onto it.

He’s onto it so quickly because he plays every delivery as if it’s going to be a bouncer – just in case it does in fact turn out to be one. This level of preparedness is what allows him to get into a position where he can flinch and duck and hit the ball, all at the same time.

Look at the photo at the top of the page. Look at the textbook-taunting way that he takes his eye off the ball and angles the face of the bat upwards. Broad wants to be dismissed. And if he isn’t dismissed, he’ll reluctantly settle for six runs, or failing that a one-bounce four, or failing that two runs from an absolute skyer that’s somehow landed nowhere near a fielder and plugged in the turf.

Now look at this follow-through.

Seriously, just look at it.

Look at this follow-through and tell us you don’t feel a pang of sadness that you haven’t just witnessed the exquisitely misguided shot that preceded it.

First published in February 2020.


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  1. Should probably have been titled “In praise of the Stuart Broad innings”. I mean it is all pull shots isn’t it?

    1. Feels like it, but every now and again – very rarely, but occasionally – the bowler tests him with a full one.

  2. The opposite of progression is regression, right? I know this, but I’m still not going to use that word. It just feels passive. One progresses, but more often than not, one finds that regression has happened.

    Broad has progressed backwards, actively. There’s been nothing passive about it. He was almost an all rounder, test centurion, often good for a fifty. With a bit of work, there was no doubt he’d bat at six.

    In fact, with a bit of work he’s gone from seven to last man. And at each stage, like the professional he is, he has played to his number. It’s as if he’s been given a DVD of England performances in the 80s and 90s, and has concluded that there must have been a plan behind it all. So now he’s batting at 11, he’s watching Tufnell and Mullaly for tips on how it should be done.

  3. Pundits are always saying, in a kind of sad, sage, pundity way that Broad’s batting was destroyed by getting hit by the bouncer in Manchester (I was there, by the way, but missed it as we were behind the stands looking for my mate Alan, who was actually in his seat all along). However his batting had already been pretty poor for at least the previous couple of years and the blow only sharpened the decline. If you did a graphical representation of his batting stats, you could chart two points where his performances declined from. 1. The Varun bouncer and 2. The point he realised that his place was safe as a bowler and he didn’t actually need to bother with his batting any more. I’ve always thought this reflected a little badly on him.

    By the way I seem to have survived my surgery and a pretty miserable week of discovering that my body will not tolerate opiate painkillers and am now hobbling around on my partially reconstructed frame. KC, no collision was involved, just dodgy genes. APW, thanks for the good wishes and puns.

    1. We think we were there when Broad was hit too, although it’s an interesting study in memory and modern sport.

      We have a memory of him walking round the boundary, possibly in his way to or back from hospital. We don’t remember him being hit. Or rather we do remember him being hit but don’t know if we only remember the TV replays or the moment itself.

      Glad to hear you’re hobbling, The Smudge. The opiates development sounds greatly less welcome though. You’ll have to resort to pure Collingwood grit.

      1. KC, you probably missed Broad being hit because you were in deep in conversation with a bloke named Alan who was wondering where his mates had got to. Either that, or you were showing off your beer bottle opening skills )in the absence of a bottle opener) to anyone around who cared to watch.

        You’re better off without opiates, The Smudge. If your body can tolerate OTC anti-inflammatories, they are much safer than opiates and should get you much of the way there with the pain management.

        Wishing you better soon. Around here we “give a shit”… as might you, in the absence of opiates.

      2. Thanks to you all. I may have expressed myself badly on opiates. They wrecked my digestive system, which was far worse than the surgical pain. I abandoned the pretty much straight away and the pain is fine without them, It just took a while for my body to forgive me for the dalliance. Anyway, enough. This is not what you come here for.

    2. Excellent news (well, not the bits about the miserable week and the hobbling, the bit where you mention that you survived and that you are recovering).

      Thinking about the potential runs Stuart Broad could have scored has made me a bit sad. The previous article made me a bit sad as well. I haven’t read the Eoin Morgan one yet, but it had better be laugh-a-minute…

  4. Broad is justified in being scared of bouncers.

    Facing bowling of that pace is terrifying.

    The way he parlays that fear into innings of comedic genius is why he is one of the greatest cricketers of all time.


      Saw this reposted on your twitter and thought it deserved sharing with the rest of the Kingdom. Somehow an American has managed to summarise the experience of a ’90s-haunted English cricket fan in the guise of space aliens.

      Also your point is right. Nobody completely sane would stand in front of Test-class fast bowlers for a living but especially not someone who is not a batsman with Test-class technique…

  5. Idly thinking that the inability to set the field was a major factor in Broad’s innings yesterday.

  6. Rakheem Cornwall and Shane Dowrich batting together might be the biggest weight difference in batting partners since Jefferson and Taylor.

    Cornwall could probably use Dowrich as a bat.

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