Ashes 2017: Peter Moores recalls finding James Anderson and Stuart Broad and how they became the best in the world

Richard Edwards
The Independent
Stuart Broad and James Anderson have been mainstays of the England side for a decade: Getty
Stuart Broad and James Anderson have been mainstays of the England side for a decade: Getty

It was in New Zealand in the winter of 2007/08 that Peter Moores realised he might just have unearthed something special.

“I always remember a conversation with CMJ (commentator and journalist, Christopher Martin-Jenkins) after one of the Tests in New Zealand when they bowled together, bowled well, and we had won the game,” says the former England coach.

“He was walking across the ground and said to me ‘I think you’ve just found the opening attack for the Ashes (in 2009). “It was funny, because I was thinking exactly the same thing. I was thinking that those two looked great together and had bowled beautifully. It turns out that CMJ was completely right.”

Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, the two bowlers at the heart of the discussion between two men of Sussex, were, at that time, still attempting to nail down their places in the England side.

The irony was that the combination that Moores brought together on that New Zealand tour have gone on to be the mainstay of England’s Ashes attacks for a decade, while he himself never got the opportunity to lead his country against Australia.

Now boasting 894 Test wickets between them, Broad and Anderson will once again spearhead England’s hopes in the coming months. It’s easy to forget, however, that both were far from universally popular picks when Moores first took a punt on them as a combination a decade ago.

Before that series against the Kiwis, Anderson had played 20 Tests for his country since making his debut against Zimbabwe at Lords in May 2003, taking 62 wickets at a cost of 39. In between he had suffered a stress fracture and numerous attempts by England to remodel an action which, it was believed, left him susceptible to injury.

He had toured Australia the previous winter but had returned home with just five wickets at an eye-watering cost of 82. Broad, meanwhile, went into New Zealand series with a single Test appearance against Sri Lanka at Colombo behind him.

Moores spotted the talent the pair had a decade ago (Getty)
Moores spotted the talent the pair had a decade ago (Getty)

“On that New Zealand trip, they came in and replaced Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard after the first Test of that series,” says Moores. “I knew Stuart because he was in my first (England) Academy intake in 2005/06. I had seen him starting to develop and had seen him progressing.

“Jimmy had been out and was trying to get himself back into that England team and make some sort of mark. At the time, Vaughany (Michael Vaughan) was captain and it was seen as being quite a brave decision in some ways. It didn’t feel like that a time because you see what people do in practice and realise the quality that’s there. It was their time to get that chance and have a go.

Both Broad and Anderson played second fiddle to Ryan Sidebottom in New Zealand, with the left-armer taking 24 wickets at a cost of just 17 as England battled back from 1-0 down to take the series 2-1. Broad and Anderson, though, returned home with glowing reviews after taking 16 wickets between them. The pair who would go on to dominate the England bowling attack from there-on in, were away.

Now, ten years on, they’re still at it.

“Both had a real desire to keep improving,” says Moores. “That to me is fundamental in those blokes who go on and become top class players. Part of the coach’s job is create opportunities for people but you have to remember that players don’t always start how they’re going to finish up.

Moores knew he was on to a winner (Getty)
Moores knew he was on to a winner (Getty)

“You need to back them for long enough for them to find the pace of the game at that level. That means there might be inconsistency at the start but you have to see beyond that.”

It’s testimony to both that consistency has become the word most readily associated with the pair, although Broad’s own unique quality is his ability to make the most of an opportunity when things are going his way. His single-handed demolition of Australia at Trent Bridge, when he took 8 for 15 in August 2015, remains the stand-out example.

This will, in all likelihood, be their final tandem tour of duty Down Under, and could even be their final Ashes series. Replacing them will be a seismic task.

“I suppose you never really appreciate what you've got until it's gone," says Moores. "What Jimmy and Stuart have always done is to find a way of mastering whatever conditions have come their way.

Both are set to be key figures again in the series Down Under (Getty)
Both are set to be key figures again in the series Down Under (Getty)

“Whatever the ball they’re using or whatever conditions they’re playing in, they can produce deliveries that will get them a wicket. Like all great partnerships they’re stronger together. With Ben (Stokes) not being there to start with, their experience with the ball in Australia will be crucial, particularly if England find themselves on the back foot.

“If England need to get some control back, they can throw the ball to Stuart or Jimmy, because that’s what they’ve done over a long period of time. If you look at what they go at per over, that gives the captain some control. It starts to steady the ship and allow England to get a foothold in the game.”

History has shown that winning an Ashes series in Australia is a mountainous task. England will hope that Broad and Anderson have one final summit ascent in them.

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