Stuart Broad has described thoroughly enjoying his return to bowling for the first time in more than two months, despite pulling up weary afterwards.
England seamer Broad was one of 18 bowlers to return to individual training programmes at venues around the country last Thursday and Friday amid a slight easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. He also said he saw no problem playing in a match where his father, Chris Broad, was referee, as might be the case this summer with limits on travel and social contact set to remain in place even if the international season goes ahead.
Broad trained at Trent Bridge under the guidance of Nottinghamshire physio James Pipe and adhering to strict infection control protocols. Broad had to record his temperature before heading to the ground, where he had his own parking space and toilet and bowled with a new set of Dukes balls, which he will keep and continue to use throughout the individual training period.
“I was only bowling at an empty net, and yet, when I left Trent Bridge on both Thursday and Friday there was a real ‘wow’ feeling,” Broad wrote in his column for The Mail On Sunday. “It felt really good to be back out in the middle again.
“It was the first time I’d bowled properly since we returned from the tour of Sri Lanka 10 weeks ago. To be fair, although I’ve only bowled 12 overs so far, the action feels pretty solid.”
Broad also described undergoing aerobic training excercises in the form of shuttle runs, known at Nottinghamshire as stag runs and borrowed from the Brisbane Broncos rugby league team in Australia.
“I have done quite a bit of long distance running at a slower pace during these last couple of months but the good thing about the stag run is that it is done at about run-up pace,” Broad explained. “It incorporates turning too, which gets the body into similar scenarios that you would encounter on the field – like changing direction to chase the ball.
“Although I felt great, on the second morning I woke up at half past six to discover muscles I’d forgotten existed. That’s what bowling does to you. Even bending down to touch my toes caused me to grimace a little. I could feel my sides too. I wouldn’t call it pain. I was just very aware that my body had been doing something different again.”
England are expected to name an international training group of up to 45 players, including red- and white-ball squads, this week in hopes of playing a condensed interntional schedule behind closed doors at venues deemed ‘bio-secure’, possibly starting with the first of three Tests against West Indies on July 8.
Plans to play in bio-secure environments with players, officials and staff required to isolate before, during and after series, have also raised the prospect of Chris Broad, the only English representative on the ICC’s elite panel of seven match referees, officiating in England’s home Test series.
While no one is questioning Broad Snr’s impartiality as an official, the scenario is understood to have raised some eyebrows in the Caribbean. But Broad Jnr rejected any suggestion that it could pose problems.
“Sure, if he was an umpire I could understand that because he could have a subconscious influence on decisions that are made on the field,” Broad said. “No offence to him here but he sits in an office and if I, or anyone else, breaks the code of conduct he simply looks up the regulations in a handbook and determines the appropriate sanction from the relevant section.
“There is no emotion in a match referee’s job. And there is likely to be no contact between us … there’s no haggling over the punishment. It’s not as if I can go into a room and barter to only pay 12 per cent of a 15 per cent match fee fine.
“From experience, and I’ve played 138 Tests, you only see a match ref if you’re in trouble. Often they are sat in a different building. You only tend to meet at breakfast in the hotel or on the outfield before the start of play. From a selfish point of view, I’d love the chance to be able to have a coffee and catch-up with dad in a bio-secure environment.”