• The maturing of Stuart Broad

    English fast bowler Stuart Broad has come a long way from flashy youngster to one of the all-time greats in Test cricket, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.

    It’s not often a player gets dropped for an opening Test and then makes his way back into a team, only to walk away with the Man of the Series award.

    That’s how good Broad has been in the two Test matches he played against the West Indies in recent weeks.

    Broad’s maturity over recent years and his coming of age have had him develop into one of the greatest bowlers the game has ever produced.

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    With his 500-wicket milestone on Tuesday he joined an elite group of bowlers who have all turned into greats with the red ball.

    But, it is a far cry from the Stuart Broad that made his debut against Sri Lanka back in 2007. Then he had to deal with the pressures of living up to his father’s standards, who also played cricket for England in the 1980s.

    As it happened, Broad, despite being extremely talented, found it difficult to settle – he had to deal with all the expectation of having a great cricketer in the family.

    His personality made it fairly difficult for him to adapt as he was often seen a privileged young player, in a way forcefully pushed up to international level.

    During those early years it seemed as though Broad was never really going to establish himself as one of England’s prime fast bowlers, something that James Anderson began to master at that specific stage.

    Broad also had to fight his way past the outgoing Steve Harmison, who’s reputation made him a favourable pick for the selectors.

    However, good coaching and excellent mentoring helped Broad settle and make a stand by creating his own unique cricketing aura.

    In the past ten years, Broad has grown into the ultimate resilient fast bowler due to his adopted discipline.

    Consistent line and length meant he began to offer something different than what Anderson was delivering – in the process forming a formidable partnership that batsmen all around the world began to fear.

    Broad began to enjoy his cricket and the hard work he put in behind the scenes had his numbers and statistics shooting through the roof.

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    He developed his own identity and in the process carved his own legendary status in English and Test cricket history.

    The 34-year-old could eventually end up as England’s all-time leading wicket-taker if he surpasses Anderson in the years to come.

    It could be rich reward for a man who works even harder now in the latter part of his career due to the growing offering of fast bowlers England keep on producing.

    Broad’s renaissance proves how valuable experience is in the longer format of cricket and by continuously pushing himself to be better, he remains determined to get his team over the line at all cost.

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    Andre Huisamen