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Croft on sledging Stuart Broad and Aussie beating

24 December 2010

  • England flanker Tom Croft chats to RFU.com about Stuart Broad
  • Cricket and rugby memories from their time together at Oakham School

England flanker Tom Croft charges clear against South Africa in the final 2010 Investec International at Twickenham

Photo: Getty Images

Given their respective body shapes, it doesn’t stretch the imagination too far to think of Tom Croft and Stuart Broad swapping their roles on the international stage for England.

You can imagine rangy 6’ 7” fast bowler Broad being hoisted into the air to snaffle a line out or 16-and-a-half stone flanker Croft steaming in to deliver some chin music to an unsuspecting batsman.

The pair spent their formative years together at Oakham School in Rutland and Croft is adamant it’s a good job he never tried to make it in cricket, while not missing the chance to sledge his old schoolmate.

The Leicester Tigers No.6 said: "Broady was in the firsts for cricket but he wasn’t very good, he was a bit podgy at school and suddenly shot up in height after.

"But I was in the thirds/fourths, which was more about sledging and getting told off by your teachers for saying too much.  Likewise I was in the firsts for rugby and he was in the thirds.

"I haven’t taken my sledging game into rugby – obviously thirds cricket was a bit less intense than international rugby. It was basically if you’re available to play, you play for the thirds, regardless of whether you could play cricket or not. On the rugby pitch I’ve got a few more things to think about than thinking up a witty come-back."

Enforced absences for Croft and Broad

England pair Tom Croft (L) and Ugo Monye after the Monye's try on the Lions tour in 2009

Photo: Getty Images

Croft and Broad are currently suffering enforced absences from their sports, and both face a race against time to get back for key fixtures in the next year.

Croft, 25, fractured his shoulder blade in the Investec International defeat to South Africa in late November and faces a battle to be fit for the RBS 6 Nations opener against Wales in Cardiff on February 4, England’s first fixture in a Rugby World Cup year.

The 22-cap blindside is recovering in Leicestershire and can’t even watch his mate trying to knock over Australia at the moment.

Nottinghamshire star Broad tore an abdominal muscle during the second Test against Australia, ruling him out of the Ashes and putting his place in the squad for the 2011 Cricket World Cup in doubt.

He said: "I do watch cricket, it’s great for a Saturday afternoon, if you’re a bit tired it’s great to fall asleep to, especially if Broady is bowling! No, I do pay attention when he is batting or bowling, because I want to see him do well. It a real shame he’s out as he really is England’s number one child in cricket at the moment."

It's always good to beat the Aussies – Croft

England flanker Tom Croft rises to claim a line out durning the record 2010 Investec International victory over Australia

Photo: Getty Images

England enjoyed considerable success against Australia on the rugby field in 2010 too, backing up their thrilling win in Sydney – only England’s third ever victory in Australia – with a record 35-18 victory at Twickenham last month.

That victory was dripping with milestones: England’s first win over a Tri-Nations team at home in four years; Toby Flood's perfect 25-point haul was the highest individual score in the history of Tests between the two sides; England had never before scored more than 32 points against the Wallabies; and England equalled their largest margin of victory against Australia. Unsurprisingly, it is Croft’s favourite moment of the year.

"The two recent wins over Australia have been great for our team, especially with so many young guys in there," he added.

"The Wallabies have really become the team to beat, they’re up-and-coming. As long as we can maintain those full 80 minute performances we will be an extremely tough team to beat.

"It’s always nice to beat the Aussies. In the cricket they haven’t been doing too well recently so I think we can finish the job out there. After our wins though I hope there isn’t a backlash for the Straussy and the boys."