Stuart Broad, the England pacer, has revealed that he turned to New Zealand great Richard Hadlee for help in tweaking his action in preparation for the Ashes at home this year.
Broad, 32, is joint eighth on the list of highest wicket-takers in Test cricket, with 433 against his name, ahead of Hadlee's 431. While he is keen on adding to those numbers, he admitted that the series against Australia later this summer could be his last one at home.
With the long-term aim of extended his career and the short-term goal of improving his game for the series, Broad said in a column for the Mail on Sunday that he had worked on tweaking his action.
"Sitting on the sidelines for a period of time during the Test tour of Sri Lanka before Christmas possessed benefits I hope will pay dividends for what I envisage will be my last home Ashes later this year," he wrote on Sunday, 13 January.
"Shortening my run-up, making myself more compact at the crease and heightening my release position will hopefully move me on again because I've got aims to play at the top level for the foreseeable future. In the shorter term, everything I am doing is geared towards those matches against Australia starting in August."
Jimmy made the change at the age of 32 and has been unbelievable since. Why can't I do the same?
Broad said that he had been inspired to make a change after watching his team-mate Jimmy Anderson in the Test series against India at The Oval. "Jimmy made the change at the age of 32 and has been unbelievable since. Why can't I do the same?" he wondered.
Searching for more control, he turned to YouTube videos of Hadlee, especially his 1990 Test match at Edgbaston where he took eight wickets in his last Test, and tried to copy that action. He also reached out to the New Zealand legend.
"He sent me a detailed, two-page email in reply about why he changed and what he did. It was awesome. That, in particular, was what inspired me to go for it," said Broad. "He reckons it gave him an extra six years on his career, that he became meticulously accurate, had such control at the crease that he wouldn't bowl a bad ball and that it gave him more bounce."
Broad, who played just one Test in England's recent series in spin-friendly Sri Lanka, expects to have more chances to put to use his new knowledge on the tour of the Caribbean. But even if he doesn't, he's not too worried.
"I have had the same action since the age of 17 but I am very keen to make it more economical," he said. "If it isn't working or is not effective over the next five weeks in the Caribbean, I can always go back to my old one. I will be able to cruise back with no trouble at all."
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