Broad looking to be Wanderers star once again

By Rory Dollard, PA Cricket Correspondent, Johannesburg

Stuart Broad has hinted he is ready to deliver another of his trademark hot streaks as he returns to one of his happy hunting grounds in South Africa.

Broad turned the match on England’s last Test appearance at the Wanderers in Johannesburg four years ago, taking five wickets for just one run in a decisive new ball spell and finishing up with immaculate figures of six for 17.

That stands as one of several occasions when the seamer has essentially settled the result of a big match in a single burst, with his unforgettable eight for 15 against Australia the standout.

The 33-year-old warmed up for the fourth Test against the Proteas by rewatching his man-of-the-match performance at the same ground and, although he made a surprisingly modest assessment of his own efforts, he does not shy away from the prospect of repeating the magic.

“I’ve just watched the spell back on social media this morning. Looking back it wasn’t a particularly impressive spell of bowling but the wickets came and that’s cricket,” he said.

“It wasn’t as if I was swinging it round corners and bowling jaffas, but I suppose I made the batsmen play. It was a good spell in that we only had a 13-run lead and it sealed the series.

“If you can create theatre as a fast bowler a lot of the time things will work for you as the pressure builds on a team. I felt there was theatre that day.

“I’ve felt I’ve bowled OK this series but I’ve not had one of those spells where I’ve really snapped through a team. Maybe the Wanderers could be it.

“Here at the Bullring, it’s one of those grounds where you feel you are in South Africa’s cricketing backyard. It’s got a great buzz and a great atmosphere around it, but it’s a brilliant place to play and a brilliant place to play as a tall bowler.”

With 137 Tests and 483 wickets under his belt, Broad has more big days in his past than his future and is ready to accept a changing role in the squad.

He missed two of the three matches on the 2018 tour of Sri Lanka and may not even make the trip when England return to the spin-friendly pitches of Galle and Colombo in March.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be in that touring party,” he said.

“Do I deserve to be in the next Test match team? Potentially, but if it’s in Sri Lanka and the conditions don’t suit I’m very happy not to be in it because you give England the best chance of winning the game.

“If my next Test is in June I’m perfectly fine with that. If England came to me and said you’re only going to play at The Wanderers, Trent Bridge and Lord’s when it’s cloudy, I’d say I’m happy with that!”

Broad may be quietly transitioning between roles, but there is no suggestion that he is winding down.

Stuart Broad has enjoyed plenty of success at the Wanderers in Johannesburg

“I know I can still deliver when the heat is on and the pressure is burning,” he said.“That excitement of bowling the first ball in Ashes series, I’m still living for that.

“I’ve still got a lot of fire in the belly and as soon as that fire goes I know my bowling boots will go. It’s still there.”