Stuart Broad has revealed he considered retiring after he was left out of England's side for the first Test against West Indies last month.
Broad became the leading wicket-taker for the series and was instrumental in both of England's victories to win the series 2-1 when he returned for the second and third Tests. In the process, Broad also became just the seventh man in history to take 500 Test wickets.
Less than a week later, he has opened up about the effect his omission from the first Test had on him, saying that the moment acting captain Ben Stokes told him he would not be playing sent his body "into shakes".
"Were there thoughts of retirement going round my head? One hundred per cent," Broad told the Mail on Sunday. "Because I was so down. I was expecting to play, which is always a bit of a dangerous thing in sport but I felt I deserved to play.
"If I had had a different conversation with the coach the day after and the coach had said you are not in our plans... well if you are not in England's plans when you are bowling as well as you can, you are pretty screwed.
"You always catastrophise when you are in a hotel room on your own. You are sat alone in a room and it feels worse than it is. The cold facts were I had been left out of one game and I would probably play the next but my mind wasn't thinking like that.
"I can't think of many times I have been down like that. When I have been dropped before, I can go: 'Fair enough, good decision, can't really argue with that.' This time, when Stokesy told me I wasn't playing, I felt my body go into shakes. I could barely speak. It was a different situation."
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The unique circumstances surrounding the first international cricket in the post-Covid world - where players within the squad are unable to mix with friends or family outside the playing venue - only compounded Broad's rejection, which broke a run of 51 consecutive home Tests dating back to 2012.
In another quirk of playing arrangements, however, Broad was able to see his father, Chris, who was part of the 'bio-secure bubble' as match referee. And Broad Jnr attributed the support of family and friends, including Stokes, with helping him through a difficult time.
"I have not really told anyone this but I was so down that week of the first Test," he said. "I was really low. I was stuck in that hotel. I couldn't go anywhere.
"I didn't sleep for two days. I was nowhere. A different decision could definitely have been made with my emotions of how I was feeling. But because I have got such a good support network around me... that helped me through.
"And Stokesy was brilliant. Stokesy knocked on my door on the Thursday night and stayed in the corridor to talk to me. He said: 'This isn't about cricket, but how are you, mate?' That was very impressive for him to do."
Broad's 16 wickets at 10.93 led to him being named England's Player of the Series. His figures included a brilliant spell with the second new ball which netted 3 for 1 in 14 balls to help set up victory in the second Test and 10 wickets in the third Test, including a six-wicket haul in West Indies' first innings before he joined the 500 club in their second.
"My biggest strength is internal, I am competitive," Broad said. "I have a steel about me that will never give up in any way shape or form and I think you can win from any position. I like to think I can cause momentum shifts in matches."
It was the perfect response after he was left feeling "frustrated and angry" at being let out of the first Test.
Now the 34-year-old Broad sees no reason why he can't take 600 Test wickets, given his desire to emulate James Anderson and play into his late 30s. Anderson, who turned 38 on Friday, is 11 wickets away from the 600 mark. And Broad also has his sights on the next Ashes series in Australia.
"Maybe this was another reset," Broad said. "I just don't want another one in 18 months' time. Maybe I am just a bit fed up of them. I am not an arrogant person but I would be disappointed if this discussion came up in the next two years again but maybe you just have to keep proving people wrong.
"Maybe that's what I need. Actually, no, it's not. Because it's exhausting having to do it all the time. Do I think I'm in England's best XI? Absolutely. Do I think Jimmy Anderson is in England's best XI? Absolutely. Did last week probably prove that? I'll leave that up to you."
The next step for Broad will be the three-Test series against Pakistan beginning on Wednesday, for which he will be hoping to be an automatic selection following his most recent performances.
"When I had just got Tom Latham out for my 400th wicket in Auckland in 2018, Richard Hadlee gave me a copy of his book and he wrote in it, 'Now go and get 500' and I remember reading it and thinking, 'Blimey, I can't even see that far ahead' but here we are and it has come round pretty quickly," Broad said.
"Could I get 600? Absolutely I think I could. Jimmy was 35 and one month when he got 500. I was 34 and one month. Jimmy is now within touching distance of 600. So stats-wise, absolutely. I'm actually more concerned with how to try to wrap a bubble around this rhythm and momentum I have got as a cricketer right now."