England seam bowler Stuart Broad says he considered retirement after being dropped for last month’s opening Test of the summer against West Indies.
Broad, 34, was left out at Southampton, where West Indies won by four wickets.
He returned for the final two Tests, both won by England, and took 16 wickets to pass 500 for his career.
“Do I think I’m in England’s best XI?” Broad told the Mail on Sunday. “Absolutely. Do I think Jimmy Anderson is in England’s best XI? Absolutely.”
Broad made his Test debut in 2007 and for most of his career has been bracketed with new ball partner Anderson, 38, England’s record Test wicket-taker, who has 589 wickets, having made his debut in 2003.
“There is no doubt that Jimmy and I have got better. No doubt,” he said.
“The last 18 months, I have been averaging 20.5 per wicket in Test cricket. Take age out of that. If anyone were doing that at any age, you would want to keep them around for a bit and not look past it.”
Only six other bowlers in history have taken more Test wickets than Broad, who has played 140 Test matches.
The 16 wickets he took in the final two Tests against West Indies at Old Trafford came at an average of 10.93.
He added: “I have not really told anyone this but I was so down that week of the first Test, I was really low. I was stuck in that hotel. I couldn’t go anywhere. It wasn’t like I could go back to [girlfriend] Mollie and have a barbeque and chill out and reassess.
“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.
“Were there thoughts of retirement going round my head? 100%. 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.
“When Stokesy [Ben Stokes] told me I wasn’t playing, I felt my body go into shakes. I could barely speak.”
Broad, who is now targeting 600 Test wickets, also revealed that Stokes, who was captaining in England in the first Test in the absence of Joe Root, then played a key role.
“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.”