Andy Flower will no doubt be relieved to hear that the new release from his Twenty20 skipper is unlikely to grab the headlines or be serialised in the tabloids. There are no revelations about dressing room unrest, no tantalising titbits about who said what to whom on a night out; instead Stuart Broad has focused on the nuts and bolts of what it takes to be a professional cricketer, using his own experiences to shed light on each aspect of life as an England star – and it is no less revealing for it.
Ever since Broad first emerged on the international stage he has been characterised by his willingness to experiment, constantly seeking self-improvement through innovation, and this is a central theme. He opens up by saying one of his “most important philosophies is the importance of trial and error… you’ve got to try out something to know if it’s going to work for you”. Broad talks the reader through plans he’s tried that have worked, plans he’s tried that have failed; areas of unorthodoxy that have proved effective for him, glitches in his techniques that he’s had to iron out.
The book is filled with pictures chronicling Broad’s finest moments and demonstrating technical aspects of his game – whether it be a blow-by-blow account of his bowling action or the intricacies of the way in which he plays the cut shot – but he is keen to point out that this is not a coaching manual, simply a guide to what works for him. “I believe it’s important that everyone finds their own way of doing things,” says Broad, “but they also need to know what things to try.” With this in mind he offers technical and mental advice that club cricketers and youngsters in particular will enjoy poring over and working out how they can adapt Broad’s methods to their own game.
While Broad avoids the kind of tittle-tattle that has sports editors salivating he is candid about life in the England dressing room, the challenges of touring and the demands that come with international stardom. He also offers insightful nuggets of information that may have passed England fans by: for instance, did you know that the reason Jonathan Trott started fielding at fine leg from both ends was to prevent England’s bowlers copping abuse at the hands of Aussie spectators on the boundary in the 2010/11 Ashes and losing their concentration? This was a plan thought up six months before England even set foot in Australia.
The book really comes alive when Broad recounts special moments that we all remember so well and enhances those memories by revealing the planning and strategy behind them. The finest example of this is when he describes the pre-match analysis that went into his five-wicket haul at The Oval in the 2009 Ashes. Team meetings had led England to focus on Shane Watson’s susceptibility to the full-pitched nip-backer, the usefulness of a change of pace against Ricky Ponting and the need to prevent Mike Hussey leaving the ball early in his innings. Broad, of course, dismissed all three using exactly those processes and produced a series-deciding spell.
My World In Cricket is sure to be enjoyed by promising young cricketers who idolise Broad and dream of emulating him, but there are pearls of wisdom for cricketers of all ages and abilities to learn from, while the in-depth analysis of key moments in England’s journey over the past five years also make this an insightful read for armchair fans who prefer to enjoy the game with their feet up.