Broad to bounce back
The seemingly never-ending schedule for an England cricketer can be unforgiving. So too can a cricket ball. Stuart Broad has felt the pain of both in recent times.
Yet as he prepares to go under the knife to finally cure a long-standing knee problem, the Nottinghamshire seamer is looking on the bright side. In fact, he is adamant a spell on the sidelines could actually lead to a "new lease of life" in his career.
While he has been forced to miss out on playing for his country, the decision to have surgery has become a necessity to make sure one of England's key bowlers is fit for next year's World Cup.
With a scheduled recovery time of just under four months, Broad is supremely confident he will be ready to play in the Triangular Series against hosts Australia and India at the start of 2015, a precursor to the ICC tournament Down Under. He even feels the break will do him some good ahead of a packed upcoming itinerary that includes a home Ashes series and tours to face West Indies, Pakistan and South Africa.
"The World Cup doesn't start until mid-February, so it is a huge amount of time," he told Sky Sports. "But there's no doubt that I will be, unless something drastic goes wrong, fit for that tour of Australia.
"I'm actually looking forward to it (the layoff) now. I'm a bit nervous about the operation, but the thought of having a bit of time to get really fit and strong leading into what is such a busy 18 months, it will be the best thing for me."
Few deserve a rest more than Broad. He was there throughout the disastrous tour of Australia last winter, then captained his country in an ICC World Twenty20 that started out in hope and ended, all-too quickly, with a humbling defeat at the hands of Holland.
His knee issue has bothered him throughout before it eventually became too much, cutting short an eventful summer in 2014 that has included some real highs and lows from taking a second Test hat-trick to sustaining a broken nose while batting.
"At 28, my body will recover better than if I was 31 or 32," he insisted. "It's been lined up for a little while to have this operation done. It's my first ever one, so I'm naturally nervous.
"But I knew an op would be required at some stage. I knew that I wouldn't be able to play for the next seven or eight years with the problem I had got in my knee.
"It's something that needed to be done – and it should give me a new lease of life for the next few years."
Broad played through the knee pain this year, while he also refused to be sidelined when left bloodied and bruised by a top-edged hook that went in between the peak and grille of his helmet during the fourth Test against India at Old Trafford.
The 28-year-old showed tremendous courage to play less than a week later in the fifth and final match, helping England wrap up a 3-1 series victory at the Oval as he not only took three wickets but also hit a breezy 37 with the bat.
While the physical damage was obvious at the time, the bowler admits his biggest concern was making sure there were no mental scars left from the blow.
"It's a little bit clunky," he replied when asked about the current state of his nose. "There are no real visual signs except for the two little scars where the stitches are repairing.
"I'm not suffering any sort of pain for it except for the odd sneeze. The nose didn't particularly hurt, but I got ear ache. I don't know if that was just the pressure releasing or whatever .
"One thing I will say is I was very glad to get back on the horse, so to speak.
"If I had gone three or four months without playing any cricket after the blow, I would have probably built it up more in my mind.
"I must admit, I&'ve never been more nervous when going out to bat. Obviously with a broken nose in two places and going back to face the bowler again, it was a bit nerve-wracking.
"But to get 30-odd and have a bit of a whack gave me a bit of confidence for the future, that&'s for sure."
Speaking as he spectated at Finals Day for the NatWest Under 19 T20 Club Final being staged at Grace Road, his old stomping ground of course from his Leicestershire days, Broad admitted he was finding it hard to watch his team-mates in action right now in the one-day series against India.
Seeing England lose at home must have been particularly tough viewing, though Broad is, as ever, confident he will be part of a side that will make an impact at the World Cup.
"It's really tough watching," he admitted while waiting to find out who he would present the trophy to later in the evening.
"I was at Trent Bridge (for the third ODI) the other day and I was nervous before the game. I think when you can't do anything about it then it's worse. You've got no control.
"You are obviously an England fan and you want them to do well.
"But India have played some pretty good cricket, haven't they? The wickets have been useful for the spinners they have in their side, and they've made full use of those conditions. After the Test series England were on fire, but India have come back strongly."
As for England's outlook, Broad added: "We are building towards the World Cup and that is still some time away. There is still time for players to put their hands up for selection, even those outside the set-up, so it&'s an exciting time to be involved as an England cricketer.
"There has been a lot of stuff in the papers recently about the troubles for English cricket, but we have not played our strongest side since the ICC Champions Trophy last summer, and we got to the final then of a world tournament.
"We will be fresh and very focused on the World Cup. I expect us to do well."
For now, getting well should be the biggest concern for Broad; England certainly need him well rested and in full working order for a busy 2015 and beyond.
Stuart Broad was speaking at the NatWest U19 T20 Club Final at Leicestershire CCC. NatWest are committed to sponsoring T20 cricket from grassroots to the top of the professional game. To find out more go to