Stuart Broad has just seen one of his best mates, and his fellow pub landlord, Harry Gurney retire.
They are both 34, with Broad 124 days older, so you’d be excused for thinking retirement may be on the mind of England’s second most successful Test bowler.
Well, it’s not.
“I feel fantastic,” said Broad.
“Jimmy Anderson is an inspiration for me. He’s still playing at 38 and I’ve started thinking ‘why not? Why can’t I do the same?'”
Since England’s 3-1 series defeat in India over the winter Broad has spent time with his county Nottinghamshire and doing what Peter Moores – his coach and former England boss – calls “the sexy part of being an experienced player”: helping and guiding others.
That is all preparation for a summer of two Tests against New Zealand – which start at Lord’s on 2 June – and five against India in August and September.
“We are a very good team in England. We’re obviously building towards an [away] Ashes series but we expect to win both series in England – it’s what we do,” said Broad.
The success of the vaccine rollout has allowed the return of spectators to sporting events, with Broad particularly looking forward to fans being at Nottinghamshire’s game against Worcestershire from Thursday, after seeing the “great” scenes of the FA Cup final on Saturday.
“The final just fuelled my enthusiasm to get back playing in front of fans,” said Broad.
“I can’t wait to get back and play in front of people who can enjoy the emotions of sport and enjoy live sport as it happens, the pace of it and the energy of it.”
We all have something we’ve missed during the pandemic, and can’t wait to experience again when normality returns, and Broad does not hesitate when asked what his would be.
“The moment I love fans the most is when there’s been an lbw or a review, and you are watching the big screen as a team all together and all the crowd are staring, and it comes up with three reds and it is out,” he said.
“The whole crowd and all the players go mad. That is when I missed crowds the most last summer – you miss that roar of emotion.”
Broad, who is making “relatively slow progress” when it comes to finalising wedding arrangements with Saturdays singer and BBC Radio 1 DJ Mollie King, also recalled a recent memory of a time when England’s Barmy Army fans’ group made a significant difference.
“I remember in Cape Town in January 2020, it took us almost 140 overs to bowl South Africa out. We needed five wickets in the final session and the Barmy Army erupted and carried us over the line,” said Broad, who took 3-75 in the game.
“I remember feeling quite emotional at the end of that game and thinking ‘wow’, and like the fans got us a few wickets there.”
The lifting of restrictions also enabled Broad to take part in a Chance to Shine session at Hague Primary School in Bethnal Green on Monday.
“The most fun thing for me was probably just seeing how many kids enjoy catching and dropping a catch and hitting a ball and missing a ball… just the smiles on their faces,” Broad said.
“To create opportunities for kids to play the sport is everything.”
The New Zealand Test at Lord’s begins a period of 12 red-ball games before the end of January, with five Tests in Australia starting in November, and Broad says he has no expectations about how many games he will play, but hopes the “very poor” communication he received when left out of the first Test against West Indies last summer is a thing of the past.
England, who fielded five players under the age of 25 in winter series in Sri Lanka and India, will need to win in Australia to regain the Ashes – something they have not done since 2011.
“We won’t be peaking as a side for the Ashes, but it is part of our development and our style of cricket is built towards playing well in Australia; go and get big first-innings runs, get 400 on the board and take wickets by bowling aggressively with a lot of pressure,” said Broad.
“That style of cricket is suiting us really well – we’ve got the players to deliver that.”
There have been rumours Steve Smith could captain Australia in that series – or certainly at some stage in the future – and Broad believes “he deserves his chance” after being stripped of the role for his part in the sandpaper ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018.
“I think [current captain] Tim Paine will probably be captain, but Steve has served his punishment,” said Broad.
“It was quite a brutal punishment for someone who was captain of the team and he’s obviously got an aim to captain again.
“He is a good guy, Steve. He deserves his chance to captain Australia and put a few wrongs right.”