Stuart Broad: 'What happened at The Oval will always lift me'

After injury threatened to end his tour, the fast bowler is back – and in bouyant mood. Ahead of tomorrow's match at the daunting Newlands ground, Stephen Brenkley hears him explain why he can take England's solid start to another level

England are in a happy place. They are in form, they are glad to be on the south-west coast having had quite enough of altitude training in the highveld and, all in all, they are as chipper as end-of-pier comedians.

If the players were to begin a group rendition of "Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside where the brass bands play tiddly-om-pom-pom" it would seem perfectly natural. The mood in the camp was further lifted yesterday when it was confirmed that the fast bowler Stuart Broad, who has been out for three weeks with a shoulder injury, will return for the third one-day international tomorrow.

England have survived, nay thrived, without Broad during the early skirmishes of this tour. But they are patently more potent with him around. Should the off-spinner Graeme Swann join him – though there is less cause for optimism on that front – they begin to have the look of an authentic, well-adjusted limited-overs side to challenge all comers.

Broad first bowled in practice on Sunday and went through his paces at fuller tilt yesterday when the tourists had a middle practice at the Northerns Goodwood club ground deep in the Cape Town suburbs. Swann also bowled with some skill but he will not be rushed back from his side strain.

Speaking afterwards, Broad embodied the pervading mood which has seen England take an early lead in the series, and was persuasively buoyant. "The Ashes seems a long time ago now," he said of recent highs that many thought would mean very little once a tour of the world's No 1 cricketing nation came around. "But what happened at The Oval is something that will always give me confidence in every form of the game I play."

When he went sprawling for a ball on the outfield at Bloemfontein in the first warm-up match, it seemed not only that his tour might be over but that he might have terminally weakened the shoulder. It looked grim and began to look grimmer when specialists from both England and South Africa came up with different diagnoses, some of an extreme variety.

"In the first 24 hours after I fell on the shoulder I was feeling down in the dumps and thought I would have to come home," he admitted yesterday. We can take him at his word. At the time there was a suspicion that England were planning for the next two months without him, as Broad appeared with an arm in a sling in obvious pain.

But it has turned out to be nothing more than a temporary impingement, which prevented Broad rotating his shoulder as a fast bowler, but not many other people, would wish. "We took a decision to see how it went and there was no structural damage at all. It's had some rest and it's done wonders. I just want to be able to contribute to a great start to a tour and to help build on it now. I'm 100 per cent." Specialist shoulder doctors can get it wrong too.

Since that magical afternoon at The Oval in August when he took four Australian wickets in quick succession, finished with 5 for 37 and turned the Ashes on its head, Broad's stock has risen irresistibly. But he is not running away with the idea that he is anybody special, appearances on late-night TV chat shows notwithstanding.

"I don't think it has particularly changed my life in any way," he said. "I get recognised a little bit more and people say how much they enjoyed watching the Ashes, but that is all very nice." This was yet another example that Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss, coach and captain of England, are building a squad with their feet on the ground rather than heads in the air.

It seems that Broad, who appears to have spent his period of inactivity growing a beard, has not been doing so to avoid being recognised. Should he have been doing it for a bet, the skimpy evidence on view yesterday suggests he should be preparing to pay up shortly.

Maybe it will add to his strength. Despite their present cheeriness, England will need all they can muster at Newlands tomorrow. They have never beaten South Africa in a one-day match on the ground. Not many teams have. Of the 27 games South Africa have played there they have been defeated only three times.

The toss, whatever the captains say today, will be crucial. There have been a total of 25 day-night matches of which 20 have been won by the team batting first. Only four times have teams bowled on winning the toss and only once has it proved to be successful. South Africa have not lost at the venue since 2003 and their five consecutive victories have followed five winning tosses.

England can corroborate. In the 2003 World Cup they played Pakistan on a balmy Saturday night there. There can never have been a shorter time gap between the coin landing in favour of the England captain, Nasser Hussain, and his decision to bat.

The match was briefly notable for Nick Knight receiving the first officially clocked ball of 100mph from Shoaib Akhtar. He played it with consummate ease, pushing to mid-off and strolling a single. Later that night the game became forever etched on the memory of the 20-year-old Jimmy Anderson. Assisted by the combination of floodlights and evening moisture, Anderson swung the ball late and fast, took 4 for 29, including three of Pakistan's top four in a compelling burst. He will open the bowling with Broad tomorrow night and – if England get lucky – this pair, who are already on the verge of becoming the side's most successful bowling combination in limited-overs matches in terms of wickets taken, average and strike rate, will pose a huge threat to South Africa's record at the ground.

There is a danger, even among professional sportsmen, that the amalgam of South Africa's daunting record and the event of their batting first would have a crippling effect on the opposition. When complemented by England's consistent inconsistency in the one-day game, caution is advised.

But there is at present a jauntiness about the tourists which has, improbably, invaded their fielding and might stretch to making coins come down the right way. It makes it possible to believe that they could make the walls come tumbling down at Fortress Newlands.

Striking success: Broad's ODI record


Matches 55

Wickets 88

Runs 2,340

Average 26.59

Economy 5.13

Best bowling: 5 for 23 (v South Africa, Trent Bridge, 26 August 2008)


Runs 328

Average 14.9

Strike rate 73.54

Fours/Sixes 21/4

Best batting: 45 no (v India, Old Trafford, 30 August 2007)

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam