Sports Editor’s Blog: Stuart Broad - a local contact

Broad in 2014 with former Egerton Park chairman Geoff Goodson, and current chairman David Glover launching new junior kit to support the Broad Appeal EMN-160911-092427002
Broad in 2014 with former Egerton Park chairman Geoff Goodson, and current chairman David Glover launching new junior kit to support the Broad Appeal EMN-160911-092427002
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It is followed, in brackets, by the name of the village he used to call home and the mobile phone number long since consigned to the digital waste basket.

Stuart Broad back in his old changing room EMN-160911-092412002

Stuart Broad back in his old changing room EMN-160911-092412002

The homespun detail of that entry is charming and wildly at odds with one of English sport’s most recognisable names.

It’s strange to think now, after 100 Test matches and enough wickets to make him England’s third most successful bowler in history, but that’s what he was - a local contact,

I first spoke to Stuart on my opening day as sports editor of this title.

To a Melton interloper from across the county borders, and as a lifelong cricket anorak, he was chiefly the son of former England opener Chris.

Interviews with Broad and Luke Wright about winning places in the England Academy, provided me with a decent first back page.

Wright was the more established and senior of the two, but it was Broad whose career was already being tipped for a steep trajectory.

Not long after seeing the boyish beanpole bowl for the first time - for Leicestershire at Oakham School - I was soon boring the pants off anyone polite enough to listen that they should look out for this boy.

Back then Broad was a mobile phone call away. Seldom answered, but always returned, perhaps using such amateurish interviews as practice for tougher assignments ahead.

A call back from the airport remains a favourite abiding memory of his polite manner, queuing for a flight to the Caribbean after a last-minute call-up to the England A tour.

As a sports journalist down the pecking order, there is a sad inevitability that access to your local contacts will recede the bigger they become.

It’s disappointing that the Johnny-Come-Latelys with their national press badges and significant bylines take over. But it’s understandable and it’s something you have to learn to accept without taking it personally.

Broad played a bit-part in England’s World Cup campaign, once more in the West Indies, and the interview request was accepted with customary politeness upon his return to Blighty.

But after his Test debut of 2007, the prospects of interviews faded, and following the Ashes-winning spell at the Oval in 2009 he had been catapulted into another stratosphere.

Time was no longer his to manage, firmly entrenched as public property with the mindbending schedule of demands that brings.

There was the occasional exception – an interview at Egerton Park on tiny chairs borrowed from the adjoining nursery.

I gracefully let the taller man have the normal-sized chair while I perched uncomfortably close to the pavilion floor.

My never-ending search for peripheral quotes to beef up Broady’s regular supply of copy also provided a dreamt-of mention on Test Match Special.

But my own sketchy 15 minutes of fame were, in keeping, not flattering. As Aggers emphasised the Melton-ness of new boy James Taylor, he informed the world he would expect a call from his local sports reporter as he once more struggled to get a quote with his subject.

Tongue-in-cheek suggestions from friends followed that had I been born a blonde and female, my prospects of an interview would have improved dramatically.

But for those of us left flailing at rapidly disappearing coat-tails, Broad still engenders an immense sense of local pride, as much for his character as his unbelievable CV.

And as his mum and stepdad will tell you, her son is and will always remain an Egerton Park man at heart; he has kept his ties with his boyhood club as close as he can.

If I said that I knew when I saw this skinny blonde lad repeatedly beat the bat at Oakham, without success, he would one day reach a century of Tests, it would be a huge, pompous lie.

But those handful of bygone interviews garnered from the top line of my fraying WH Smith contacts book told me the correct attitude, character, and desire to learn were already in place.