Stuart Broad admits he had ‘retirement thoughts’ and feared for his England future after being dropped for the first West Indies Test.
The 34-year-old was left out of the series opener at the Ageas Bowl, with stand-in captain Ben Stokes instead opting for a pace attack of James Anderson, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood.
Broad said during the Test – which England eventually lost by four wickets – that he was ‘angry’ and ‘disappointed’ at the decision, having been the team’s most prolific wicket-taker over the past two years.
He has now revealed he felt ‘really low’ as he came to terms with being dropped in his hotel room and even had ‘retirement thoughts’.
‘I have not really told anyone this but I was so down that week of the first Test. I was really low,’ Broad told MailSport.
‘I was stuck in that hotel. I couldn’t go anywhere. It wasn’t like I could go back to [his girlfriend] Mollie [King] and have a barbeque and chill out and reassess.
‘I wasn’t playing, I was staying in a single room. I didn’t sleep for two days. I was nowhere. A different decision could definitely have been made with my emotions of how I was feeling.
‘But because I have got such a good support network around me, my mum, dad, sister, Mollie, that helped me through.
‘And Stokesy was brilliant. Stokesy knocked on my door on the Thursday night and stayed in the corridor to talk to me. He said: “This isn’t about cricket, but how are you, mate?” That was very impressive for him to do.
‘In this modern world, sometimes face-to-face comfort can get lost. I have always had a huge amount of respect for Stokes and I will be friends with him for life, but what he did almost added to that.
‘He is captain of the game, he has got a hell of a lot going on this week but he has taken the time to come and see how I am, which almost lifted me out of a bit of a rut.’
Broad added: ‘Were there thoughts of retirement going round my head? One hundred per cent. Because I was so down.
‘I was expecting to play, which is always a bit of a dangerous thing in sport but I felt I deserved to play.
‘If I had had a different conversation with the coach the day after and the coach had said you are not in our plans… well if you are not in England’s plans when you are bowling as well as you can, you are pretty screwed.
‘It’s not like I can move from Man United to LA Galaxy. If you are not playing for England, you are not playing for England.
‘You always catastrophise when you are in a hotel room on your own. You are sat alone in a room and it feels worse than it is.
‘The cold facts were I had been left out of one game and I would probably play the next but my mind wasn’t thinking like that.
‘I can’t think of many times I have been down like that. When I have been dropped before, I can go “Fair enough, good decision, can’t really argue with that”.
‘This time, when Stokesy told me I wasn’t playing, I felt my body go into shakes. I could barely speak. It was a different situation.’
Recalled for the second Test, Broad took three wickets in each innings and produced two superb spells with the new ball to help England level the series.
The Nottinghamshire bowler also starred in the series decider, claiming his third ten-wicket haul and surpassing 500 Test wickets as England secured another emphatic win to reclaim the Wisden Trophy.
Broad became only the seventh cricketer and fourth pace bowler to reach 500 scalps in Test cricket and is now targeting another milestone.
‘Could I get 600? Absolutely I think I could,’ Broad said.
‘Jimmy was 35 and one month when he got 500. I was 34 and one month. Jimmy is now within touching distance of 600. So stats wise, absolutely.
‘I’m actually more concerned with how to try to wrap a bubble around this rhythm and momentum I have got as a cricketer right now.
‘I feel a burning desire to keep winning Test matches, keep getting that feeling and hopefully I will burn that out. Because I think it’s a dangerous thing as a sportsperson to leave the sport you love with that burning desire still there.
‘That’s when things can go the wrong way. For now, though, let’s keep that fire burning.’
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