Betfair Ambassador Graeme Swann salutes Stuart Broad who took his 500th wicket in the third Test against the West Indies, won Player of the Series and once stared down our man on T20 Finals Day...
"Broady is very honest. The only time he's not honest with himself is when he's batting and he gets given out!"
When Broady was left out of the first Test I was absolutely gobsmacked at how under-appreciated he was. It's brilliant how he has come back in these two Tests and got his 500, and now everyone is crowing about how good he is - because he is. Jimmy Anderson is as good as he is in part because Stuart Broad is at the other end. I'm made up for him to have reached this milestone.
I liked Broady's attitude before I'd even met him
It was the T20 final in 2006 at Trent Bridge. I was opening the batting for Notts and Broad was opening the bowling for Leicestershire. I knew from the first few balls that he was a natural fast bowler, one of those guys who hits the splice really hard, and he was quicker than you think.
He beat the bat with his first ball and gave me a stare. I really liked that about him. He puts on a game face. Some people have to pretend to be a big nasty fast bowler or sledge you, but Broady doesn't do any of that. Even right back then, he had a very serious approach. You knew you were in a battle.
Then obviously we ended up playing together for Notts and England, and we got on like a house on fire right from the off. He's one of my best mates now.
We used to form a deadly centre-half partnership in England's five-a-side games, a bit like Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister. Obviously, I'm Pallister, the classy good-looking one, and Broady was the grittier, hard-hitting defender. He's phenomenal at Call of Duty too so I always made sure he was my partner when we played on tour and we'd destroy Jimmy Anderson and Tim Bresnan every night.
A great guy in the dressing room
Broady is very honest. The only time he's not honest with himself is when he's batting and he gets given out. He loves using a review because he thinks he's not out even though he's stone dead! But he's very sure of his position and he gives as good as he gets, which is important to have in the dressing room.
He's always got a funny slant on things as well. I remember the Lord's Test against Pakistan when the match-fixing story broke. I'd got five wickets and Broady got his ton so we were due to go up on the honours board, which is a really big deal. We were sitting in the dressing room afterwards being told what had happened and Broady leaned over to me and whispered: "They'll still put our names on the board, won't they?" I had to stifle my giggles because it was a very serious moment.
You don't take 500 wickets without a lot of hard work
He went through a phase where we were trying to use him as the enforcer, someone who could rough people up, and we did have some success doing that but, as he's get older and wiser, he's got to know his game much better. His line and length is immaculate these days.
He's incredibly robust too and his longevity is a credit to him. His action doesn't seem to put too much strain on his body and he hasn't got injured very much. I don't know if it's right to say he has been fortunate with injuries because he does look after himself and he does stay fit. I mean, he's not ripped to shreds when he takes his top off but then neither is Jimmy!
They both know their game and, when you watch Broady running into bowl, he's a very natural athlete. It's all straight lines with no twists or potential hot spots for injury. Fast bowling is horrific on the body - I can't even imagine what it's like - but I think Broady's action makes it less of a burden.
He had one period of his career when he lost his wrist and just couldn't stop swinging it in. But it's a testament to the strength of the man that he went away and broke down his action. He almost started from scratch but then he came back in New Zealand and took five wickets.
He could only achieve that because he was honest enough to admit that things weren't going right, and this wasn't how he needed to be bowling. He didn't hide behind anything, he went away and built himself up again.