Michael Atherton has backed Stuart Broad to play on long enough to threaten the 600-wicket milestone in Tests, as the Nottinghamshire seamer stands on the brink of claiming his 500th scalp.
Broad followed a six-wicket haul in West Indies’ first innings at Old Trafford with figures of 2-8 from his opening three overs of the visitors’ second innings.
The Nottingham-born right-armer is the leading wicket-taker in the series despite having missed the opening Test at the Ageas Bowl, and Atherton believes his resilience is one of his enduring qualities.
“The mark of a champion sportsman is not when you get knocked down but how you bounce back, and we've seen that in this series with Stuart Broad,” he told Sky Cricket.
“When you get left out, that's when you find out a little bit more about yourself. Some players, when they get to that stage and get left out, they might just say, 'Well, I've done enough with my career'.
“But clearly Stuart Broad, with that fire in the belly he showed, has got more to come and he doesn't just want to get 500 wickets - he wants to get up to 600 as well.
“You leave out champion cricketers at your peril. At the moment, he's just full of confidence with both bat and ball - a player at the top of his game."
Broad and Anderson rekindled their new-ball partnership for just the third time in 14 Tests at Old Trafford.
The Lancashire right-armer justified his selection with the wickets of Shai Hope and Shamarh Brooks in West Indies first innings – and Atherton believes his longtime accomplice can achieve similar longevity.
“Broad made the point that he's actually quite a bit younger than James Anderson,” he wrote.
“Of course everyone brackets Broad and Anderson together because they've played together for so long.
“But he's actually four years younger and he's said, 'if Jimmy can go on to almost 38, why can't I?'. If he does, it'll be a remarkable achievement.”
Broad ran through the West Indies lower order to claim his 18th Test five-wicket haul, producing the kind of match-changing spell Atherton has witnessed several times before.
“I remember the Test match at Johannesburg in 2016, when he took 5-16 in five overs and I was on commentary at the time with Neil Manthorp,” he recalled.
“I just turned to Manners and said, 'he's going to get some wickets here'. You can sense it somehow.
“Maybe it's the length that he hits - it's a fantastic challenging length that makes it tough for any batsman, but particularly left-handers.
“David Warner found that out last year and, if a batsman as good as Warner struggles to work him out, it's going to be tough for most left-handers.”
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