“I perform at my best under pressure, when the game is at its most exciting, when the game needs changing”
Last Updated: 28/06/20 9:17pm
Stuart Broad says he aims to replicate the intensity of Ashes cricket, which brings out the best in him as a bowler, despite the lack of a crowd for the behind-closed-doors Test series against West Indies.
England’s three-match #raisethebat series against the Windies gets underway with the first Test at The Ageas Bowl on July 8, with a three-day, intra-squad game to go ahead first from Wednesday.
Broad says he has been working hard with England’s sport psychologist about “getting my emotions to where they need to be for an international Test match” ahead of cricket’s long-awaited resumption.
“If you put me in an Ashes game or a pre-season friendly, I know which one I’ll perform better in,” said Broad.
“It’s a worry for me, because I know I perform at my best under pressure, when the game is at its most exciting, when the game needs changing.
“And I know there are certain scenarios that bring the worst out of me as a cricketer and that’s when I feel like the game is just floating along and there’s nothing on the game.
“I’ve got to make sure that I train my brain to not get into that mindset of ‘nothing is happening here; I can’t see any crowd’. I’ve got to make sure my brain is in Test-match mode.
“It will be that match day that will feel the strangest. And that’s why it’s great we’ve first got this three-day warm-up.
“We’ve got to try and get our minds and bodies up to match intensity; the last thing we want is to be walking out on July 8 and all of us, as a group, are thinking ‘this doesn’t feel like normal’.
“We’ve got to get that out of our system in this warm-up game to make sure we hit the ground running; that applies to me out of everyone else.”
Broad says the intensity from the England training group of 30 has been impressive so far in the build up to the first Test, helped by there being only 11 places up for grabs.
With six Test matches (three against Pakistan following on from the West Indies) scheduled over a seven-week period, and preparations hampered by the COVID-19 outbreak, Broad understands that there might be a need for rotation, but still hopes strong performances will result in selection.
“Training has been nicely intense; actually, the coaches have been telling us to make sure we control our intensity a bit because, if we come in and spike our workloads, we risk injury,” said Broad.
“We’ve been told as a bowling group that the strongest team will be picked for the first Test, so the aim is to get into that team.
“I don’t like missing cricket. I feel fit at the moment – my fitness tests have been as strong as they ever have been – but we all know how hard fast bowling is.
“The selection panel have been quite clear that yes, we want to play our best team as often as possible, but also we’re not going to put bodies at major risk.
“If you’re in the first team come July 8, in that bowling attack and you do your job well and bowl a team out and only bowl around 20 overs in the Test, I’m assuming you’re going to play the next game.
“That’s got to be your aim. I would love the opportunity to start.”
And, though there is uncertainty about how the international cricket calendar will look over the next 18 months, Broad has echoed Silverwood in saying he has been encouraged by what he has seen from England’s fast-bowling reserves.
“From the training that I’ve seen, it’s pretty impressive the bowling that’s going around,” Broad added. “I bowled with Mark Wood a couple of days’ ago and he bowled beautifully. Great control, brilliant pace.
“One thing is for sure, there doesn’t seem to be a panic in strength in depth in English fast bowling. We’ve all come here fit and fresh – that’s quite rare for a fast-bowling group.
“Looking ahead to Australia in 18 months’ time, the dream ticket there would be to be boarding a flight and having this lot of fast bowlers fit and ready to go.
“That’s the aim for English cricket. Can we go to Brisbane having Olly Stone, Jofra Archer, Wood, these pace guys, along with Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, Broad, James Anderson?
“If we can do that, we’ve got a chance of winning.”