Stuart Broad celebrated his 34th birthday ago in June, as England went about their preparation in the quarantine bubble for the return to cricket action, after being caught in the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He got his birthday gift in the form of his 500th Test wicket just over a month later. As he trapped Kraigg Brathwaite leg before wicket in the 3rd Test versus the West Indies, which England won by 269 runs, Broad became the 7th bowler in cricket history to scalp 500 or more test wickets.
He is only the 4th pace bowler to reach the milestone and the second Englishman after James Anderson.Muttiah Muralitharan tops the list with 800 wickets, followed by Shane Warne and Anil Kumble.The pace quartet of James Anderson, Glenn McGrath, Courtney Walsh and Stuart Broad make up the top seven.
Remember Broad was not considered by England for the 1st Test, which the hosts lost to the West Indies at Southampton. But he made a tremendous impact in the 2nd and 3rd Test to ensure a hard fought 2-1 series win for the hosts.
With 37 year old Anderson rested for the 2nd Test, Broad got a look-in, and claimed 6 wickets making himself the obvious selection for the 3rd Test, where he registered a 10 wicket match haul to power England to a win. Getting Broad to team up with Anderson in the decider, England resorted to the tried and tested combination of the duo that has claimed over 1000 Test wickets for them, mostly while bowling in tandem over the last 13 years.
Son of Chris Broad a former England left handed opener and now an ICC match referee, Stuart Broad has seen the highs and lows that the game has to offer.
Stuart faced the ignominy of being hit for 6 sixes in an over by Yuvraj Singh in the ICC World T20 in 2007. But he put that disappointment behind him and over the years rose in the ranks of the England team, and went on to captain the side in the ODI & T20 formats.
In fact over the years, he has shown a great deal of maturity in the way he plays the longest format of the game. Broad made his Test debut in 2007 versus Sri Lanka and at the start of his career, held out a lot of promise as a lower order batsman as well.
His career batting stats bear out that fact. He has scored a hundred and 12 half centuries, and had accumulated over 3200 runs in Test match cricket. The Test century was against Pakistan in 2010 at Lords,where he was involved in a record-breaking 8th wicket partnership of 332 runs with Jonathan Trott.
But he suffered a fractured nose and injured eye after being hit in the face by a bouncer from Varun Aaron, on the third day of the fourth Test at Old Trafford in August 2014. The ball squeezed between his helmet grille and visor, as he attempted a pull and it struck him on the nose. His batting has never been the same again. It is well documented that Broad admitted to having nightmares about it, and worked with a psychologist to get over that incident which affected his game.
But if Broad the batsman lost his mojo, the bowler in him flourished. Limited to turning out for England in just the longest format of the game since 2016, Broad has shown an immense amount of control, accuracy and variety in his bowling in Tests.
As his performance in the current series suggests, if form & fitness are on your side then age is just a number.