Wickets and averages don’t lie and seamer Stuart Broad, the newly-crowned No1 Test bowler in the world, ranks right up there with the best England has ever produced.
Broad has taken more Test wickets in the last five years than anyone else and in that time has come on leaps and bounds and found a level of consistency that was perhaps missing before.
The 29-year-old doesn’t always look the most threatening on a flat pitch but when there is a little bit in the wicket and there is a match-winning situation to grasp, Broad is often the man to put his hand up and grab it.
He did it during the 2009 Ashes at the Oval, the 2013 Ashes at Durham, at Trent Bridge against Australia last summer and most recently on Saturday when his 6-17 against a wilting South Africa at The Wanderers was simply stunning.
I don’t think any other England bowler has been able to create as many devastating spells of that nature as Broad, who is the country’s third highest Test wicket-taker with 330 scalps.
If you look at his overall record, he has played the same amount of Test matches as Bob Willis did – 90 – and taken five more wickets. Bob was one of the best bowlers this country has seen so, make no mistake, Broad is in exalted company and deserves to be.
I agree with Sir Ian Botham that this England side can become the world’s No1-ranked Test side. When you look in and around the squad there are good options and depth, which is exactly what England had when they reached No1 in 2011.
There are some weak Test sides at the moment and No1 probably isn’t as hard to get to as it was, but regardless of that the big test will come when England play in subcontinental conditions. England travel to India for five Test matches in November and December.
Playing in subcontinental conditions is when a team will be truly judged. Certainly when I was involved in that No1-ranked side that’s where we tended to struggle, although I do think this exciting young England has the capacity to go there and win.