Stuart Broad’s 100th Test cap will be one of his proudest moments – and also a chance to prove what he can do in one of his final frontiers.
Broad has earned his status as a modern England great, with 360 Test wickets already at the age of 30 and a clutch of match and series-winning performances against many of his country’s toughest opponents.
Yet of his 99 Test appearances to date, only three have come in India.
He has had precious little success either, taking just two wickets at the cost of 290 runs and having found himself a frustrated and peripheral figure on his last trip when injury curtailed his involvement in England’s memorable 2-1 series triumph.
As they return, again under Alastair Cook, Broad is hoping he can begin to demonstrate his true capabilities in these conditions when he reaches that century of caps in Rajkot tomorrow.
The 30-year-old has his eye on further far pavilions, too – two more Ashes series, for starters –but he knows the here and now is all important.
“It is very much a chance to show what I can do (in India),” he said. “I probably shouldn’t have played that series – I wasn’t fit. I think I only bowled 25 overs in the series.
“I lacerated the fat pad in my left heel before the first Test match in the warm-up game, and the scans just didn’t show it.
“It was a frustrating period for me, but I feel in a pretty good place at the moment... and I’m excited to get going.”
Success over the next six weeks would be redemption indeed for a cricketer with much reason for satisfaction yet still possessing a driving ambition for future as well as past glories.
Broad acknowledges England’s task in five Tests will be exacting, not least as they seek to put behind them their collapse to recent Test defeat against Bangladesh for the first time.
Without Broad, who was rested in Dhaka, England lost all 10 wickets in under a session to go down by 108 runs and arrive in India on the back of only a series draw.
Asked if this is perhaps one of his toughest assignments, he said: “Without a doubt.
“I think we are coming here as massive underdogs... India have got to No 1 in the world and played some brilliant cricket here, so we’re very aware this is a huge challenge.”
He is relishing the prospect, however. “It’s amazing to be part of series like this and Ashes series and South African series.
“It makes you want to become a better bowler, because you need to keep improving to live at this level.”
He wants to continue doing so, alongside England’s all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson whenever possible – each having a confirmed eye on longevity.
Broad, about to join Anderson and Cook in England’s ‘100 club’, which has just 13 members, added: “I try not to think about end of careers, because I think that makes you slow down as a player.
“I think as soon as you set those targets, you stop chasing to improve, you stop training very hard.
“I certainly want to play in big series, and that counts at least two more Ashes series, in my view.
“Obviously, I’m aware how special an achievement it is because of the players that have come before me – the amount they’ve given to English cricket.
“So it will be a special cap to receive. But actually, I think what excites me more is we hope this game will be the start of a huge series for us as well. It’s great to get a milestone, being in such an important game.
“It’s always a dream, isn’t it, to play as much for your country as possible. There are not many of those Test caps with the little 100 below the Three Lions.”