Stuart Broad: Titan of Ridiculousness

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And so the greatest Test batter of all time has departed the game just four ducks short of Courtney Walsh’s all-time record with 39. To put that in context, the next highest tally by someone with a Test hundred to their name is Marvan Atapattu’s 22 – and that was only after a rollicking start with four in his first five innings. However, the incredible duck count is just one of very many cricketing achievements for Stuart Broad, who also bowled a little and just as importantly delivered pioneering work in the field of the shenanigan.

A ridiculous bowler

When we named Broad’s 8-15 against Australia as one of the four weirdest eight-fors of the last 25 years, we pointed out that you could bowl at a team of 11 Chris Martins and legitimately expect to emerge with worse figures. There are vanishingly few scenarios where runs scored off the bat should be less than twice as likely as wickets when measured across an entire innings.

But there we go. That is what Stuart Broad delivered… in an Ashes Test.

He took three wickets in his first two overs; five in his first four; and eight in barely an hour. Australia were 38-7 at the drinks break on the first morning of a Test and all out five overs later.

Less than a year later, Broad delivered a spell of bowling in which he took five South African wickets for one run and ultimately accounted for the whole top six. That one doesn’t get spoken about anywhere near as much, but it was clearly cut from similarly ridiculous cloth (maybe that Global Hypercolour stuff from the eighties that changed colour when it got warmer).

Broad also took a couple of seven-fors and several hundred other Test wickets. Let’s also not forget that he was responsible for two of the funniest overs ever bowled, which surely can’t be a coincidence.

Two of the funniest overs ever bowled

It is a pretty good measure of the extraordinary body of ridiculous work accumulated by Stuart Broad that neither of these overs is the one where he was tonked for six sixes by Yuvraj Singh.

We have already dealt with both overs in great detail, so we will merely point you towards those articles. If you really want to get to grips with the often inadvertent ridiculousness of Broad, we feel that both are well worth a read (even from an unbiased point of view).

The first over is not actually a Test over. It is the insanely chaotic final over from when the Netherlands beat England in the 2009 T20 World Cup during which there were six chances to secure a run-out but zero run-outs.

The second is much more recent. It is Broad’s eight-ball, 35-run world record over to Jasprit Bumrah last year, which also featured a failed attempt at a run-out.

Every time we read that second article back, there comes a point in our rankings where we think we must have made a mistake. “Wait, how was this not at least the second or third most ridiculous delivery of the over, if not the most ridiculous?” we wonder. And then we read on and no, no, turns out our rankings are indeed correct. The sheer density of ridiculousness in that over was really quite incredible.

The most ridiculous batter

There have only ever been a handful of batters who have consistently neared the heights achieved by Jasprit Bumrah on that day. The highest flier of them all was undoubtedly Broad himself.

Stuart Broad’s final shot in Test cricket was a six, but as we said at the time, it would have been just as fitting if he’d been caught after utterly skying it. That was the essence of what Broad’s batting eventually became.

Once upon a time, Broad was a good batter: high left elbow, great timing and solid defence. He made a hundred. He made a bunch of fifties. In his early years in particular, he could sort of play.

Then in 2014 he top-edged a Varun Aaron bouncer into his own face and everything changed in an instant. (We were there when it happened but for some reason didn’t think to write anything about it.) This was the Peter Parker bitten by a radioactive spider moment. This is when alchemy happened.

After a brief period during which he became a (justifiably) cowardly tail-ender who backed away from even the full balls, Broad reintroduced all of his best shots. These displaced all of the adequate and unremarkable strokes, but none of the wild panicked hitting he’d developed in the meantime. The end result was Murali Deluxe.

Broad’s batting became an exquisite blend of woeful shot selection and panic underpinned by weirdly good hand-eye coordination. This meant that a freakishly high percentage of the deliveries he faced became either boundaries or his dismissal. A lot of the time it was hard to predict which you were watching while he was playing the shot or even after he’d hit it.

Anything could happen, but no innings was likely to last too long. Near-misses abounded. It was absolutely unmissable; the feeling of impermanence intensifying every boundary.

At the centre of all this was the Stuart Broad hook shot – a stroke he deployed frequently, brilliantly and awfully.

The most annoying cricketer

Finally, there was what can only really be described as “all the other stuff” – much of which contributed to his status as quite possibly the most annoying cricketer there’s ever been and some of which didn’t. (Remember when he angrily stared-out some passing litter?)

Most obviously, there was the celebrappeal – the tendency to celebrate LBWs without actually waiting for the umpire to give a decision.

He was also quite capable of delivering a secondary appeal for something he hadn’t even witnessed, such as when Colin de Grandhomme was run out behind his back (because he was appealing towards the umpire, ironically).

In classic Broad style, he followed that dismissal up by bowling Kyle Jamieson next ball – a moment that was really only further evidence of what we already knew: Stuart Broad was a cricketer who was nourished and elevated by chaos and nonsense, drawing strength from it in the same way that Superman draws strength from Earth’s yellow sun.

Witness, for example, another run-out. Against Pakistan in 2020, Jimmy Anderson was on four wickets for the innings when his team-mates twice dropped chances in the same over. The very next over, a third chance went to Broad – an absolute dolly. Broad responded by skipping into the air and crossing his legs in a kind of Riverdance move while attempting to catch the ball with his wrists.

After first taking a moment to express exasperation with the ball (as if the ball had been the weird one) Broad then picked it up and knocked out middle stump. The whole passage of play elicited a rich tapestry of emotions.

He didn’t even need to be on the field of play to deliver high-grade ridiculousness. Remember when England dropped him and he threw a big strop? Remember when he swanned into a press conference with a copy of the Courier-Mail under his arm after they’d refused to refer to him by name and he’d subsequently taken five wickets? Remember when he volunteered for a press conference after the sandpaper story broke so that he could ever-so-innocently question why Australia had started doing such a thing after consistently getting the ball to reverse during the Ashes?

Even in his final series, he was still going strong. There he was ostentatiously making his ground after Jonny Bairstow was run out and making a big show of asking the Australians for permission to leave it again. There he was swapping the bails over “to change luck” and twice getting a wicket next ball.

We can only end this in the same way we ended that article asking whether he was the most annoying cricketer of all time

A fantastic bowler, a fantastic celebrappealer, a fantastic untier and retier of shoelaces when his team was trying to bat for a draw and also the greatest batter of all time.

Stuart Broad.

About this article

We’re really happy to have been able to put together a final Stuart Broad tribute. It took a while, but it was worth it, if only because we got to revisit some of his finest moments. A few years ago, we wouldn’t have had time to do a piece like this, so big thanks to everyone who’s ever contributed to our Patreon campaign. You literally make these things possible.


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  1. I remember the glorious days when he was supposedly their enforcer, pinging it on halfway down the track, resulting in a brilliant collection of long hops cos he wasn’t fast enough to get away with that.

    1. He has been so many things. At one point he actually was fairly fast. At one point he was fairly legitimately considered to have promise as an all-rounder. For quite a while, he was a really unremarkable fast-medium seamer who didn’t especially merit a place in the team. You can get through a lot in a career that long.

      1. Yeah, he was almost a fast bowler but not quite. Much better once he went back to pitching up a bit more.

        Until that ball to the face, he was showing real promise as a lower order batsman.

        He also showed proper English chutzpah by refusing to walk when he’d clearly edged it, only for the umpire to say he hadn’t.

      2. That whole pitching it short thing was partly because he was tall, but he actually released the ball from surprisingly low.

  2. I didn’t like Broad for several years, he seemed a bit public school and smug, but I have grown to love the sheer absurdity of him as a cricketer and his wry sense of humour. This article captures that nicely.

    Easy to forget that Broad was briefly a big celebrity around the time of the 2009 Ashes, promoted as the heir to Botham and Flintoff (back when he could bat properly and was a bit quicker) and a genuine mainstream teeny bopper heartthrob. He had loads of endorsements and was even interviewed on the Jonathan Ross show, back when that was a big deal.

    If anyone had concerns at the time that this meant he was an unserious cricketer more interested in courting fame, his decade and a half of genuine graft and extraordinary competitiveness afterwards have proved them wrong. I’m sure he’ll do well out of retirement, but we will miss him a bunch.

  3. Sad to think that I will never again go to a Test match, think that Stuart Broad looks a bit tired, then see some (in his view) unforgivable injustice occur to him (examples include clear not-out LBW decision confirmed as not out after review, a fairly difficult catch not taken off his bowling, a batsman having the gall to hit a good ball for 4, David Warner continuing to be a cricketer, etc), watch him throw a strop, and then see him bowl ridiculously well and take a wicket immediately afterwards.

    For a while there that was becoming an annual occurrence.

    (PS – I hope you haven’t been working on an equivalent Anderson article just in case, we all know he’ll still be trying to get selected for England when the sun expands to absorb the Earth, Test cricket is abolished by a theocratic dictatorship that has just bought the rights to all bat-and-ball games, or an IPL commentator forgets to mention a sponsor and the universe implodes)

  4. Utterly average most of the time though he did have a weird super power.

    See his ability is actually powered up by his cuck strop. If he has no reason to cuck strop then it’s all long hops, skiers and dropped catches. Once given the opportunity to cuck strop however his abilities are dialled up to 11.

    Sadly he’ll probably have an opportunity to be a worse commentator than Atherton or Hussein. Very few can say they’d even have a chance.

      1. The best bit about revisiting the ‘Baldy’ comment is that now it says ‘Comments are closed.’ underneath in a way that runs directly on as if it’s part of the original comment.

        I think that adds something to what was seemingly an improvable one-two combination of the first and second lines, although other literary scholars may disagree. One for the future A-Level syllabus, no doubt.

    1. My mum taught Stuart Broads sister too ride. You seem to talk more shit than the output the ponies arse.

  5. “Every time we read that second article back…”
    That’s the bit that worries me, King.

  6. Readers of a certain age who like rugby league and are from Wigan, the best of you in other words, will recall the days when we had The Greatest Scrum Half Ever, Andy Gregory, doing ridiculous things. He was five foot three, sixteen stone, but in a totally incomprehensible way, languid and graceful. There’s not much footage of him on YouTube, but that clip gives a flavour.

    Halfway through is a clip of him scoring (wearing blue) at Wembley, from a break made by Shaun Edwards. And this is the thing. We all knew that Andy Gregory was the world’s best half back, but we all missed the fact that we also had another half back who in any other team would have been the absolute star. Only his proximity to a supernova dimmed his apparent brilliance.

    It took around ten years after he retired for us to fully recognize Edwards as the superstar player he was in his own right. We have been absurdly lucky in English cricket to have had this situation repeated. To have the greatest ever English bowler is one thing. To have another of England’s bowling greats at the same time is another. In any other era, Broad would be being considered for a knighthood for services to English cricket. It has been an absolute privilege to watch him bowl (*), a statement undiluted by reference to anyone else.

    (*) I was there.

    1. Well spake, Bert.

      On the Branderson pairing (I cannot spake for rugby) I am sure that a great many of each of their wickets is by dint of their hunting as a pair. I doubt whether either of them would have had quite the longevity of career and/or wicket count had it not been for the pairing.

      It absolutely feels like the end of an era, even if Jimmy soldiers on for some while and wins England some more matches and breaks yet more records.

    2. This is not really relevant* but I have got Andy Gregory’s signature somewhere, from when I was taken to Central Park in about 1990 or so. From what my family tell me, I spent more time watching the scoreboard (which used to do a little pixellated animation for ‘Try’ and ‘Goal’) than the actual game, which Wigan won 40-8, and then afterwards we went into the ‘players’ lounge’.

      *I know, it’s late for me to be trying to apply that standard to comments on this website.

      1. All this talk of great half-backs. It’s like we’re ignoring that unforgettable instruction, “He’s the best prop in the world, never mind anybody else.”

      2. That signature must be worth tens of pence by now, enough for a whole street of houses in Lower Ince.

        As for the scoreboard, to have such a thing in 1990 was like living in the future. Those animations were spectacular. It seemed difficult to believe that computers could be that powerful, and indeed, many match-goers were mentally affected by the vision of inevitable AI domination it conjured up.

        Wigan had an electronic scoreboard before Manchester United did.

        Also, a quick shout out to a friend of mine from the time, Chris Naylor, who shall remain nameless. After seeing the scoreboard, he decided he could make similar items out of cardboard boxes and light bulbs, and that this was going to be his job. Bear in mind that Chris thought that night was a black cloud that went round the earth, and that Spain’s best golfer was called Seve Bally tree roots.

  7. It strikes me that the span of Broad’s career fairly accurately mirrors the lifetime of this website, and for me, pretty much my time following cricket properly. Reading this website may or may not count as following cricket properly but I assure you that other things are involved, even though this is a significant strand of it.

    Broad’s probably the first cricketer where I can say I followed it the whole way through, from county murmurings to departing the field for the last time. I’m 32 now and Broad’s career just seems like ‘my day’. I’m sure dozens or hundreds more players will play for England but there’s no bringing back the players who you first saw breaking through.

    1. Yeah, his debut came a few months in, before we moved to

      Obviously there have already been a handful of players who arrived at the same time as the site and have now retired. It’s a bit of a funny feeling.

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