Stuart Broad has described his relationship with Ed Smith as a case of working under somebody who did not rate him and said he would accept missing a Test match this summer provided the reasons are communicated properly.
England will name their squad for the upcoming Test series against New Zealand on Tuesday, the first since Smith’s three-year spell as national selector was terminated last month and his powers handed over to the head coach, Chris Silverwood.
While Jofra Archer’s name will be missing due to persistent elbow problems, Broad will clearly feature among the seamers. But how he and Jimmy Anderson are deployed during the two Tests at Lord’s and Edgbaston from 2 June – and then the visit of India for five later this summer – will again be a talking point.
Last summer Broad missed the first Test against West Indies at the Rose Bowl and he made his disappointment clear about this in Sky’s diary room. It was the catalyst for a golden run of form but if Silverwood and the captain, Joe Root, are pondering a repeat, they may need to show the 34-year-old their workings.
“I was disgruntled because the selectors had said the first Test team of the summer will be our best team,” said Broad, speaking at a school coaching event for Chance To Shine run by sponsors Lifebuoy. “To be told I suddenly wasn’t in the best team with my record in England, that’s what upset me.
“Is it realistic that I’m going to play every Test? No. But if the communication is done well, you understand why you might miss certain games to be fit for others. When the communication disappears, that’s when players can’t see reasons.”
It was something of an open secret that he did not see eye-to-eye with Smith in this regard, a tension which dated back to being dropped from the first Test in Barbados in early 2019 when the former national selector was on tour.
Asked to appraise Smith’s time, Broad replied: “I think you can say it was a success in the sense that the team won games and a World Cup. And he brought some fine players through. But personally, from my point of view, we struggled a bit on the communication side and probably saw the game of cricket slightly differently.
“A lot of people have bosses who don’t rate them as much as other people and I think he was mine. He probably didn’t rate me as much as other players. That’s fine but I kept trying to prove some selection decisions wrong.
“I really disagreed with getting left out in Barbados where it’s one of the best places to bowl as a tall fast bowler and there are a few occasions where I have felt a bit disgruntled and didn’t have the clarity of communication that I would like.
“I am very open to being told things. Have a discussion face to face and then have a beer and move on, that’s how I like to do things. Maybe Ed and I didn’t have that sort of relationship.”
Like Anderson, who turns 39 in July, Broad has no thoughts about retirement at present. There may be 517 Test wickets to his name already but he is still looking to play all seven Tests this summer, while next winter’s Ashes tour in Australia is being viewed as anything but a swansong.
Broad said: “Ashes away series can be seen as the end of an era, can’t they? But I see it being in the middle of our journey as a team, I see it as the middle of my journey and am in no way looking at it thinking I could walk off at Sydney. I want to keep going and Jimmy is a big inspiration to me.
“[Nottinghamshire head coach] Peter Moores calls it the sexy stage of your career – you know what you’re doing, you don’t have too many bad days because if you bowl a bad ball, you know why.
“I look at Jimmy at 38, coming up to 39, and three years ago I’d have thought no chance I’d get anywhere near that. Now I can sit here and think why not?”
Another motivation here is passing on his 146 caps of experience to younger players such as Ollie Robinson, who, along with Mark Wood and Olly Stone, is expected to make Silverwood’s first squad and then a possible debut.
Broad rates the Sussex right-armer Robinson highly for “consistently making batsmen make decisions all the time” and fancies he would be ready to take the new ball if himself or Anderson were rotated. Not that he wants to miss the roar of a home crowd for the first time since 2019, with Lord’s set to be at 25% capacity.
Broad added: “My mum was virtually in tears [when I told her she had a ticket]. You forget how much it means to family members to support and watch the cricket. Hopefully, touch wood, I’ve played in my last empty stadium.”