James Anderson's England retirement: Stuart Broad on 'the most complete and skilful bowler I have played with'

July 09, 2024

As James Anderson bids farewell to Test cricket at Lord's, long-time bowling partner Stuart Broad - who made an emotional exit across London at The Kia Oval last summer - reflects on a staggering career and what makes him so great…

Jimmy is going to get an amazing send-off whatever happens against the West Indies this week. There is no pressure on him, it's not like he needs wickets to stay in the team!

Even if he gets 0-100, everyone will be delighted to see him bowl and show his skill. I hope he enjoys the happiness of everyone around him and that helps his performance.

He has had some decent moments against West Indies in the past at Lord's, memorably his 500th Test wicket and I'd fully back him, if conditions suit, to have a pretty good week.

He is coming off the back of a seven-for for Lancashire so he will be feeling in good rhythm and Lord's for him is one of his favourite places to bowl, I would say.

His record there and the amount of times he has been on the five-for board is spectacular. There is probably no better place for him to feel comfortable in his environment.

He might have half an eye on Shane Warne's Test wicket tally of 708 if he has a really good week but he will just want to walk off the pitch winning the game.

I know he is nearly 42 and this will be his 188th Test but he will feel some nerves this week, no doubt. He won't shy away from that. He'll know a lot of eyes are on him and that people will be hoping and wishing he does something really special.

'Jimmy's best performance against Australia at Trent Bridge'

He has done special things throughout his career but if there is one game that stands out it would be the 2013 Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.

He got 10 wickets in the match and we won by 14 runs. It was one of those situations where he extracted the most out of the pitch compared to the other bowlers.

He got the final wicket of Brad Haddin with an off cutter and there were great scenes where it got reviewed and everyone ran around celebrating.

I wouldn't say conditions were typical Anderson where the ball was swinging and seaming around but he used his great skill to win that Test match pretty much alone. That was his best performance, in my opinion.

He is the most skilful, most complete bowler I have played with, which is part of the reason he has got 700 Test wickets.

I have described him as a Rolls-Royce - not that I've ever driven a Rolls-Royce - in terms of how smooth his run-up and delivery is and the control he has at pace. Those are remarkable traits. But for me talent is also about staying on the field and bowling.

That incorporates finding your way to stay fit and dealing with niggles and different pressures within the game. There is no point being talented if you don't play and win games at the top level, which Jimmy has done.

He has had a mindset of continual improvement and that has helped him with the longevity. We often think staying power is all about fitness but it is also about developing your skill to stay in the team.

'Anderson still in England's best team right now'

In terms of the retirement call, if Ben Stokes, Brendon McCullum and Rob Key had a brainstorming session and wrote 'Ashes away', Jimmy's name might not be jotted down.

I don't think they are questioning whether he is in their best team right now. For me, there is no doubting that. Against West Indies and Sri Lanka at home with the moving ball, he is in your XI.

But they are thinking about what England need to regain the Ashes in Australia in 2025/26 and they need to give exposure to those types of bowlers and see if they are good enough at Test level. At the moment, they are slightly unproven.

We need to find out about them and how they cope under the pressure and demands of Test match cricket, back-to-back Test matches.

We are going to need someone to do that, show that durability, as while Mark Wood is a standout bowler and the ECB have given him a three-year contract, he is not someone who will back-up three or four Tests in a row.

Gus Atkinson has got brilliant attributes - he is tall, has got pace, runs in hard and moves the ball - so I am excited to see what he has to offer in the first Test. He should be looking to take as much info from Jimmy and Chris Woakes as he can.

Dillon Pennington is not in the XI but in the squad and he is someone a lot of batters this year have told me hits the bat harder than you would expect. He bowls in the mid-80s and gets good bounce and has a bowling action that is difficult to find rhythm against.

He has forced his way into the reckoning through performances for Nottinghamshire and I am sure he will get an opportunity this summer, maybe at Trent Bridge in the second Test, a place where he has bowled a lot of overs.

'Wins matter most to Anderson'

Jimmy will be there to guide them as bowling mentor for the rest of the summer.

As he is staying in the environment, his lifestyle is not going to change drastically over the next couple of months, apart from the physicality of bowling and the pressure of delivering that skill in the middle.

He is shy but obviously not in the changing room where he knows everyone really well. He is a leader in there and one of his favourite things is celebrating Test match wins.

If you asked him about his career highlights, he probably wouldn't say bowling spells or taking five-fors, but the moments in the changing room when you have won a game and you can settle in, talk about the week and really enjoy it.

The dream weekend would be Jimmy taking five, England winning on the Saturday and then watching the England footballers win the Euros on the Sunday - but I might be getting ahead of myself!

Watch the first Test between England and West Indies live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am on Wednesday (11am first ball).

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