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.
Time to work on the technical side of my bowling is something I rarely get because I’m always in competition mode, but the spin-dominated series allowed me to tinker with my run-up ahead of playing in the final match in Colombo.
This time last year I did a lot of work on my wrist position and then took six wickets in the first innings against New Zealand in Christchurch, so I hope the changes to my run-up will have a similarly positive effect.
Stuart Broad spent time over winter modifying his run-up in the hope of taking more wickets
Yes, I might be 32 and have 433 Test wickets to my name, but I am always trying to get better. When he was head coach, Andy Flower embedded it into our thinking to strive for improvement and collect ideas in our minds.
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.
The idea came to me when I was at the Oval late last summer watching Jimmy Anderson bowl. He’s got quite a short, rhythmical run-up, I was at mid-on and I just thought: he looks like a Rolls Royce here. It made me think that I should try something similar.
He might be my team-mate but Jimmy is also one of my big inspirations. You only have to look back three years ago to early 2016 in South Africa, where I had a good time of things, and Jimmy was receiving a lot of stick about him being past it.
AB de Villiers came out and said he had lost his pace and I saw that was hurting him. He dismissed it as a load of rubbish but admitted he might be lacking a bit of rhythm and vowed to get it back.
Broad has followed in the footsteps of team-mate Jimmy Anderson by making changes
Jimmy made the change at the age of 32 and has been unbelievable since. Why can’t I do the same?
I have had the same action since the age of 17 but I am very keen to make it more economical and 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.
I am a bigger bloke than Jimmy so I need a bit more momentum and I have only shortened my approach by five yards, but the changes to the stride pattern are the important part.
Last summer I bowled a lot into the wind, as Jimmy tended to bowl with it, and I felt like I got long and stretched as a result. Part of my thinking was that the changes would help me stay compact and strong when it does blow, which should give me more control.
So I started doing loads of research and began watching YouTube footage of Sir Richard Hadlee late in his career. The ECB analyst guys then sent me loads more and away I went in a bid to copy his exact pattern from his Test match at Edgbaston in 1990.
My aim was to start straight after the India series but Jasprit Bumrah hit me with a bouncer that broke my rib and that meant I had five weeks out, delaying the process.
In order to gain the most advantage, Broad has been studying the action of Sir Richard Hadlee
It seems to be going well despite being so new to me. A new, slower ball can take four to five months to be bed in, but when I tried it out in the Colombo Test, even though I only bowled 11 overs it felt good, rhythmical and if I can bowl it in 45-degree heat, I can bowl it in England no problem.
During the process I got in contact with Sir Richard, who played with my father, Chris, at Nottinghamshire and 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.
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.
These are all the same reasons that I want to make a change. If it’s good enough for one of the best bowlers in history, why not me?
The Nottinghamshire bowler hopes the work will help during what may be his final home Ashes
Standing taller in my delivery, with my height, should hopefully provide me with extra bounce this summer.
My mindset has been that the conditions we were likely to face in our six matches this winter will be drastically different to those we face when we take on Australia in August and that whether I played all six or none it wouldn’t effect the position I’d be in for the Ashes.
Of course I will be ready next week if the Kensington Oval is a bit damp and likely to seam about but the effects of the changes should be seen more fully in six months.