'Steely' Broad enters Test captaincy frame
Stuart Broad confirmed that he has held talks with the ECB, as the board launched its search for Alastair Cook's successor as Test captain, but insisted he has "not specifically" thrown his hat into the ring for the role.
Speaking to reporters at Buckingham Palace after receiving an MBE from Prince Charles, Broad said that he backed Andrew Strauss, the director of England cricket, to make the right appointment, after it emerged that the frontrunners for the role - Broad, Joe Root and Ben Stokes - had all held meetings with Strauss and James Whitaker, the chairman of selectors, on Thursday.
"I've played for England for a long time, over ten years, so as a senior player you are going to share views and talk to coaches and hierarchies about how the team moves forward," said Broad.
"It's important that players who've been involved, and who you see leading the team forward in the next few years, are consulted.
"When he was captain, Andrew Strauss was one of the best decision-makers I've ever played with and, now he's moved into the top of English cricket, I'm sure he'll consider all options and malke a very sensible and good decision."
While Root remains the overwhelming favourite to lead England in their next Test series, against South Africa in July, there are legitimate concerns about the workload on both him and Stokes, two players who are deemed indispensable to England in all three formats.
And that could yet be a reason to hand the Test captaincy to Broad, 30, a senior player with established leadership qualities (he was England T20 captain for three years until Eoin Morgan succeeded him in 2015), but who has played only two limited-overs matches since the 2015 World Cup.
Moreover, with England's defence of the Ashes fast approaching in November, Broad's proven appetite for the heat of battle in Australia - where he has recently completed a successful stint with Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash - could be another reason to entrust him with the captaincy.
Not only has he produced series-winning spells in each of England's last three home Ashes series, most memorably with his 8 for 15 at Trent Bridge in 2015, he was also one of the few players to emerge with his reputation enhanced on the disastrous whitewash tour Down Under in 2013-14, finishing as England's highest wicket-taker with 21 scalps.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Broad recalled how the events of that tour helped to "make him as a cricketer", most notably during the opening exchanges of the first Test in Brisbane, where a local newspaper, the Courier-Mail, instigated a vendetta against him as a consequence of his refusal to walk for a catch at slip during the Trent Bridge Test in 2013.
Throughout the contest, the paper referred to him only as "the 27-year-old medium-pacer", and encouraged the crowds to let him know what they thought of him, but after claiming first-innings figures of 6 for 81, Broad walked into that evening's press conference with a copy of the paper under his arm.
"That really helped make me as a cricketer," Broad told ESPNcricinfo. "It made me quite a steely character, made me know how to deal with crowd pressure, put it to one side and work on your performance.
"It was an experience for sure, I played there in the Big Bash against Brisbane, and got a bit of crowd interaction but certainly not as much as in an England shirt. To walk away with that sort of reaction but with a six-for was a pleasing feeling. I told myself I can deal with everything that's thrown at me externally and still deliver a good performance.
"Obviously the Test didn't go our way but I know I am a competitive bloke, I thrive in competitive situations, and there's no better situation than an Ashes series away from home, and it's a hugely exciting challenge for us.
"We've got a lot to get through but we are building a team that can challenge Australia in Australia. I spent some time there and there's no doubt they are formidable in their own conditions, but we have players of the likes of Root and Stokes, Jos Buttler's such a dangerous talent with the bat, and Moeen Ali too.
"These are guys who are delivering on the big stage, plus a few senior guys who've been there and done that. We are growing as a team and this will be an exciting Test team to follow over the next few years."
Despite speculation that he might be in line for a return to the ODI squad for the forthcoming tour of the Caribbean, Broad was last week overlooked in an unchanged squad, and appears to recognise that county cricket will be his priority for the foreseeable future, as he readies himself to face South Africa, Test opponents that England have not beaten on home soil since 1998.
"I've got a great period now with no Test cricket until July," Broad said. "I haven't had that for about eight or nine years, so I'm looking forward to the next period of time, doing my pre-season with Notts, heading over to Barbados, and setting high standards for myself come July."
"South Africa are always a tough team, that's what made winning in South Africa so special," he added. "I've played in two series against them at home, they beat us in 2008, when I got dropped towards the end of the series, then Hashim Amla got a triple at The Oval [in 2012] and they beat us in that series too.
"They are always great competitors, very skillful in our conditions, and that makes this summer a huge one. It's important for us to get back to winning ways after a tough tour of India. Everyone expected that - five back-to-back with no warm-ups was going to be tricky - but England in our own conditions, at grounds that we are used to and where we have very good records, should encourage us to really take South Africa on."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket