Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson are England’s most successful opening bowling partnership.
On the eve of the the 2019 Ashes they talk to Sportsmail’s Lawrence Booth about their lives and their amazing record in Test cricket.
On the eve of the the 2019 Ashes, Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad talk to Sportsmail
Do the Ashes still get the juices flowing more than other series?
Jimmy Anderson: It does for me, definitely. It always has, even as a kid growing up — it was always the Ashes. It’s no different as a player.
Stuart Broad: This particular Ashes gets your juices flowing more. With the success of the World Cup, cricket seems a bit of a talking point. I feel this could be one of the best series ever.
After the World Cup, would an Ashes win complete the perfect summer?
SB: That would be the absolute dream. But to look at September 17 seems a long way away. That’s always a dangerous place to be as a player. But it would be a dream for English cricket if we could have both the Ashes urn and the World Cup.
Both Anderson (right) and Broad (left) believe the Ashes gets the juices flowing in players
Is it fair to say you don’t really like Australian cricketers very much?
JA: Watching The Edge [Barney Douglas’s film about England’s rise and fall under Andy Flower] reminded me how much they try to wind us up. It’s generally quite heated when you play Australia. They give off the impression on the field that they don’t really like us. It’s slightly different now, because we’ve played with a lot of their players, so we know them differently from the series when Michael Clarke said: ‘Get ready for a broken arm.’ But there are still players in there who try to wind us up.
SB: We don’t know what to expect this summer. We’ve seen ‘Get ready for a broken arm’, we’ve seen Ricky Ponting making sure their players don’t look at us off the field, and bowlers not allowed to speak to each other when we were marking our run-ups at the start of a Test. They wanted to create this warrior image, as if Aussies aren’t human. Whereas this year they’ve come over with this new ‘Take your shoes and socks off’. But Jimmy and I aren’t the nicest two people on the cricket field. We like to be very competitive and we’ve got to make sure we don’t start asking the Aussies ‘How was your steak last night?’
JA: We’ve got to forget about how they’re going to behave. We’ve been trying for a couple of years to find some consistency in our Test cricket. We know what works best for us, and that’s what we’ve got to focus on. We can’t worry too much about whether they’re going to sledge us.
They say that it’s quite heated when England play Australia, as players try to wind them up
Will David Warner and Steve Smith get a bit of abuse?
JA: I’m not sure. They had a mixed reception in the World Cup. Seeing how Warner reacted to it by scoring runs, I don’t think it will make a difference whether people boo him or not. He’s driven anyway. That might just drive him on a bit more.
SB: I’ve been through that booing aggression from the Aussies. It dies off. At Birmingham, there’s no doubt the crowd will boo, as we saw in the semi-final. But if they perform like they’re capable of, come day three of the fourth Test, there’s not going to be anyone booing. I found that in Australia towards the third Test — not that I was doing particularly well!
JA: That time we went to Australia, and Darren Lehmann was encouraging their supporters to get on Broady’s back. And walking down the street seeing ‘Stuart Broad is a s**t bloke’ T-shirts — it’s pretty brutal.
They’re currently unsure if both David Warner and Steve Smith will get abuse from fans
Do you two feel a responsibility to knock Warner and Smith over?
SB: If you flip that question to Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, they’d be looking at Rooty, Stokesy, Buttler. Every line-up has key players. Smith averages nearly 60, so he’s their kingpin. We’ve already done some research into the Australian batters. They’re obviously world-class players, and you can’t guarantee getting them out, but our job as senior bowlers is to make sure our plans are 100 per cent right. Why not be a bit quirky? There’s no point letting them play in their own box.
JA: It’s good to have plans that cover every scenario possible. But at the same time, a good ball will get a good batter out, especially in England, if it’s swinging, the nicks carry and lbws are in the game.
SB: The biggest point is adapting. We saw Smith score big hundreds in 2015 on the two flattest pitches, at Lord’s and The Oval. But if there was a little bit in it, the fields were a bit more regular and it brought in the outside edge. Our biggest strength, in the first 10 overs of a Test match, is we look to adapt quicker than the two opening batsmen. We pride ourselves in trying to read pitches very quickly.
Both of England’s fast bowlers are targeting key players in the Australia team to knock over
You’ve got over 1,000 wickets between you. That must be a source of real pride
SB: Yeah, the moment it happened, after he’d taken another five-for, Jimmy walked into the physio’s room in Barbados, where I was sat with my bib on, and he said: ‘Well done mate, we’ve reached 1,000 together.’ I said: ‘Top drawer. I mixed that dioralyte well for you this week.’
Do you enjoy poking fun at each other?
SB: I think we’re quite dry. I feel like I’m relatively polite towards you.
JA: Most things you say to me end with, ‘You old b*****d . . . ‘
Jofra Archer’s new on the scene, Mark Wood has bowled like the wind. There’s Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Olly Stone. Does that keep you on your toes?
SB: You always want competition. There’s no doubt we’re going to need an armoury of fast bowlers in the next seven weeks, because there’s been a lot of intense cricket played already this summer, particularly by the white-ball guys, and you can see the strain that’s had on Woody and Archer particularly. It would be unrealistic to think four bowlers can get through it all, so you do need a battery of lads who have played a bit, and feel confident about stepping into the arena of an Ashes series. I feel like we’re in a position to do that. My personal aim in April was to make sure that, come the end of July, I had no niggles, I was fit and fresh and felt like it was my first game of the season. I feel in that sort of position. I feel ready to fire.
Broad (L) isn’t worried about competition from the likes of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood
Are fast bowlers naturally grumpy?
SB: Not as grumpy as Jimmy. He’s quite shy to start with, so he can appear a bit grumpy if you’ve just got to know him, or if you interfere with his breakfast. But his personality shows through over a period of time, or two beers deep.
JA: You were very close with Matt [Prior], and I was quite close to Swanny and Cooky, but we all hung out together. Then once they retired, we have got a bit closer, and that has helped us on the field. We know each other inside out.
SB: There have been examples where you’ve come to me and said: ‘I’m just noticing this, or your run-up’s short’, or I’ve said to you: ‘Come over the wicket’. You got Henry Nicholls out in New Zealand, remember, where I felt like your stride pattern was too long.
JA: One for me was the wicket I took to get past Beefy’s England Test record in Antigua. Broady said to me: ‘Try a leg-cutter’, so I did, but it didn’t look like getting a wicket. But he said: ‘Do it again, but do it quicker.’ I did, and it got a nick. We get as much satisfaction from each other taking a wicket as taking a wicket ourselves, which is unusual.
SB: We don’t see each other’s celebrations out there. But if I ever watch something back, or see a picture, you can see us celebrating each other’s success.
Broad (L) and Anderson (R) say they know each other inside out after playing together
Will you bowl differently to help the guy at the other end?
JA: I remember the New Zealand game at Lord’s in 2013 — you get seven-for, and I was just trying to bowl maidens. You were going for four an over, and that was a conscious effort of trying to be patient from one end and let him attack from the other.
Are there a few more overs in the tank for Jimmy?
SB: If you start looking towards the end, you slow down as a sports-person. So if you think this is going to be my last summer, then you stop finding things to work on, and drive yourself forward. Over the past two years, Jimmy is bowling as well as he could, and I’ve probably worked harder in the last 18 months on my game than I have in the last seven or eight years.
JA: We do talk about it a lot. As long as we’re pushing ourselves and trying to get better. There might be a day when one of us wakes up and goes: ‘That’s it, I’m done.’ I don’t want to take anything away from Cooky’s last Test, but I almost think he got to a point in his career when he needed something. And that was it: ‘Right, this is my last Test match.’ He got 70 and a hundred. That worked for him, but I don’t think that would work for us.
Broad (L) and Anderson (R) discuss whether they think his career is coming to and end soon
So… how well DO you know each other? What would he say was his best Ashes spell?
JA: I think Stuart would go for a toss-up between The Oval in 2009 and Durham in 2013. But I think he’ll say Oval ’09.
SB: How about eight for 15 at Trent Bridge?
JA: Oh no, how did I forget that?
SB: He’d say Trent Bridge in 2013: he set up the game in the first innings, then dismissed Brad Haddin for the winning wicket.
JA: My favourite was the second innings of that match because I bowled a 13-over spell from the Radcliffe Road, and then got the last wicket.
Who’s his favourite Aussie batsman to bowl to, past or present?
JA: Shane Watson. I think he got him out a lot.
SB: I’m going to say Michael Clarke, because Shane Watson was so powerful and a boundary hitter. But Clarke was captain, and I bowled some decent balls at him.
JA: I’m not thinking this through.
SB: The bloke who would give him the most satisfaction to get out would be Mike Hussey. He was so hard to get out, and he nicked him off a few times.
JA: Yeah, that’s the right answer. What would he say was his best sledge? JA: Can I tell the sister one?
SB: Best not. I reckon Jimmy’s is Mitchell Johnson saying: ‘Why are you chirping now, mate? You’re not getting any wickets.’ Next ball, he bowled Ryan Harris at Perth. And he turned round and put his finger to his lips.
JA: You’re not a sledger. But in ’09, you and Swanny kept getting these partnerships going and were smacking it through the covers and Johnson wasn’t bowling as well as he could. I remember him getting really angry and you smiling at him and patting the pitch.
SB: Yeah, I’m a bit of a winder-upper rather than a big sledger. That was before Johnson bowled express pace!
How well do England bowlers Anderson (right) and Broad (left) really know each other?
What would he say was his favourite song?
JA: He has weird tastes.
SB: Whatever makes me happy on the day. If I’m in Ibiza with a glass of rosé in my hand, I quite like that. A bit of RnB. Late 90s pop. My favourite artist in concert would be Elton John. Jimmy’s favourite song? I want to say someone like Muse.
JA: It would be something like Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve.
What would he order in a restaurant?
JA: According to your Instagram, your favourite food is a Sunday roast. Or, in a Japanese restaurant, he’d order yellowfin tuna, sashimi, tempura prawns and maybe a teriyaki beef.
SB: Spot on. If we went out for a nice meal to cheer us up, he’d go for a steak, loads of sides, definitely chips, start with a few beers, maybe a sip of red later.
JA: You’ve nailed it.
What would he have been if not a cricketer?
JA: That’s a really good question. I don’t think you’ve ever thought about anything other than cricket. It’s in the family, isn’t it, in the genes.
SB: I’d like to have been a Formula One driver, but that vanished when I reached 6ft 6in. I’d also quite like to have been a chef. I like cooking with my hands but not eating with my hands. I just don’t like the feeling of oil and things. If you eat pizza and can’t wash your hands straightaway, I get twitchy.
JA: He’ll be holding chicken legs with the tips of his fingers, he doesn’t want to touch them!
SB: I think Jimmy would be a school PE teacher.
JA: Oh my God, that’s freaky. I was just thinking that.
SB: He’d wear shell-suit trousers with his football socks tucked in at the bottom, a roundneck jumper with the adidas branding. And a whistle round his neck.