Self-proclaimed Test “addict” Stuart Broad said he felt proud to be alongside some of cricket’s greatest bowlers after becoming just the fifth man to take 600 Test wickets.
The veteran England seamer elevated himself to elite company by dismissing Australia’s Travis Head on the opening day of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
By having Head caught for 48, Broad joined Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800 Test wickets), Australia’s Shane Warne (708), England’s James Anderson (688) and India’s Anil Kumble (619) in a select quintet.
Broad and Anderson, the other active bowler in this elite group, are the only quicks to have taken 600 Test wickets.
Broad started this match, his 166th Test, on 598 wickets, having already dismissed Australia opener David Warner 17 times at this level.
But after England captain Ben Stokes won the toss, the 37-year-old Broad had Usman Khawaja lbw for three to leave Australia 15-1.
Broad had to wait until the first over after tea for the landmark wicket, with Head hooking a bouncer caught by Joe Root at fine leg.
There were no more wickets for Broad on Wednesday as he returned figures of 2-68 in 14 overs.
Australia were 299-8 at stumps in a match England, at 2-1 down with two to play, must win to maintain their hopes of regaining the Ashes.
“It was a pretty decent day and there is something nice about getting a 600th pole (wicket) from the James Anderson End!,” Broad told Sky Sports after achieving his landmark feat on the Lancashire home ground of his longtime team-mate. “It’s a very special feeling.
“When I went past Glenn McGrath, my hero growing up, that was really cool,” said Broad as he reflected on surpassing the Australia pace great’s tally of 563 Test wickets.
Broad’s double strike on Wednesday also saw him overtake Botham as England’s leading Test bowler against Australia with 150 wickets.
“I remember getting my cap from Ian Botham in Colombo (on his Test debut in 2007). I never felt that Test cricket was the dream, but having an impact on it,” he said.
“I suppose it’s a thing of longevity and I am addicted to Test cricket. I like the grit and competitive nature of it. It’s great to be on that list with some of the greats of the game.”
Australia batsman Marnus Labuschagne, who made 51 on Wednesday before falling lbw to spinner Moeen Ali, said Broad’s “statistics speak for themselves” as he praised his endurance and skill.
“We know that if conditions are good for bowling, he (Broad) is always going to be a handful,” said Labuschagne.
“But he’s shown through the series and through his career that when it’s not, he can still keep it tight, wait for his opportunity and work a batter out.”
The then Leicestershire seamer — Broad is now at Nottinghamshire — had only started bowling towards the end of a school career that indicated he might follow in the footsteps of his father Chris Broad, an Ashes-winning batsman.
That batting talent was still on show during Stuart Broad’s superb 169 against Pakistan at Lord’s in 2010, although he has never been quite the same with the bat since having his nose broken by a bouncer from India’s Varun Aaron four years later.
Broad’s trademark has been an ability to suddenly turn a game on its head with match-winning bursts — he’s taken five or more wickets 20 times in a Test innings — while generating late seam movement.
The most celebrated example was his outstanding 8-15 at Trent Bridge during England’s 2015 Ashes triumph.
By then he was already a public enemy in Australia for his refusal to walk — or give himself out — when edging to slip in an Ashes clash on the same ground two years earlier only for umpire Aleem Dar to rule in his favour.
Broad, then on 37, made 65 in a match England won by just 14 runs.
Four-time Ashes series-winner Broad, asked if playing against Australia brought the best out of him, replied: “I think so. I like the extra scrutiny and how much the public in England and Australia love it.”