Stuart Broad is a superhero. I think we can all agree on this; there’s no real need to discuss it. He may not be an out-and-out superhero when it comes to the playing of cricket, but he is most definitely a superhero within the field of the various mad things that he does while playing cricket. And that’s what really matters.
Some of the mad things that Broad does while playing cricket can legitimately be considered ‘cricket’, but a great many of them would more accurately be categorised as ‘shenanigans’.
No cricketer in history has ever delivered quite so consistently when it comes to both deliberate and inadvertent shenanigans.
As just one example, on day one of this Test match Broad aggressively stared out a piece of litter as it gambolled past him like some kind of urban tumbleweed. That’s natural talent, that is. That’s the kind of shenanigan you simply can’t teach.
So Stuart Broad is a superhero. This begs the question of what gives him his superpowers.
Most England players get their powers – both super and conventional – from a very obvious source.
Day one of this Test taught us that Jofra Archer takes his energy from the warmth of Earth’s yellow sun. Without it he apparently bowls like his hero, Craig Kieswetter. (Yes, Craig Kieswetter is Jofra Archer’s hero. It seems necessary to state that this is an actual fact.)
Then there is Jonny Bairstow, who feeds on the perceived doubt of others. Actual, genuine doubt has little impact on his game, but if he completely incorrectly believes that everyone has been questioning his place in the side, you can pretty much count on a hundred.
Or how about Ben Stokes? Up until this week I had no idea exactly what powered Ben Stokes, but then Mark Wood revealed in his BBC column that Stokes is powered by full fat milk. This makes perfect sense because there is something of the Seventies footballer about Stokes and full fat milk was the Seventies footballer’s sports drink of choice.
But Broad? I have no idea what powers Broad. He has been so relentlessly super, for so long, in so many different ways, that it’s hard to detect a common cause.
I can only conclude that there is some sort of virtuous circle whereby Stuart Broad is powered by being Stuart Broad. Every now and again, he becomes aware of that fact and immediately takes a hat trick without noticing.
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