James Anderson and Stuart Broad on their relationship on and off the field and the special moments that have made the hard yards worth it.
Ten years ago James Anderson and Stuart Broad walked out at the Basin Reserve in Wellington to play their first Test match together, selected in place of Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard to mark a changing of England’s fast-bowling guard.
In the time since they’ve taken their combined tally of Test wickets to 941, becoming the most prolific opening bowling partnership in history.
As England prepare for a two-Test series against Pakistan, starting at Lord’s on May 24, Anderson needs 33 wickets to surpass Glenn McGrath’s record tally for a fast bowler of 563, while Broad sits just behind his partner in crime on England’s all-time wicket-taking charts.
Reflecting on a decade together at the top, Anderson says their relationship has always been that of friends rather than rivals.
“Some people say that having that competitiveness between teammates is healthy but I’ve never really found it to be healthy when there is a bit of an edge there,” Anderson tells Dean Wilson in the latest issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly. “For example, the Gough/Caddick relationship in the dressing room was absolutely horrible to experience. It might have driven each of them on but from a team’s point of view it was awful.”
“I can genuinely say we’ve never had that edge to want to outdo each other,” agrees Broad, before admitting they’ve had their flash points over the years. “It can’t always be sweetness and light though, can it? We’ve had our dust-ups because we can both be a bit hot-headed, and if one of us has had a blow-up then quite often the captain will come up to the other one and say, ‘Have a word’.”
“We had a big one at Trent Bridge in the 2013 Ashes,” continues Anderson. “I bowled a 13-over spell that ended with the final wicket, but right at the start of that spell I didn’t know what I was doing. I was all over the place and probably shouting at fielders. Broady came up to me and said: ‘Get your head out of your arse mate, stop being an absolute tool’. Or words to that effect.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Broad also looks back on an awkward first meeting with Anderson in 2005 – “We definitely didn’t speak to each other because you’re not exactly the most socially friendly bloke with people you don’t know!” – and each recalls the best spell they’ve seen the other bowl. “The best I’ve seen Stu bowl was in the 2009 Ashes at The Oval – cleaned them up good and proper,” says Anderson. “Seriously good balls to seriously good players.”