The best fast bowlers hunt in packs so perhaps it is no surprise that Stuart Broad has got a strong team together for his first pub.

He has thrown his hat into the ring along with Nottinghamshire and England colleague Harry Gurney and award-winning licensee Dan Cramp to set up the Cat and Wickets Pub Company.

The trio's first pub, The Three Crowns in Wymeswold, Leicestershire, has been trading for the best part of a year and they are actively seeking a second site.

As you would perhaps expect, Dan takes care of operations, Harry (an economics graduate as well as a first class cricketer) looks after the books, and Stuart provides ideas as well as the marketing reach and PR that an international sportsman can bring.

Stuart explains the team dynamic: "My view on it is that Dan's the expert. He has been in the trade for a long time. For me he has the biggest vote. H is the money man and I pick at everything and play devil's advocate."

Dan laughs: "The only time we fall out is when they get behind the bar and try to pour a pint – you should see the wastage!"

For those who don't know their cricket, Stuart is one of England's most successful bowlers. Only Ian Botham and James Anderson have more test wickets and he could pass the former this summer.

Harry is a mainstay of the Nottinghamshire team and also has 10 England ODI caps to his name.

With such cricketing pedigree you might expect to find a pub full of memorabilia but there are no signed shirts, action photos on display or 'Beefy' or 'Lamby' options on the menu. All of which was a conscious decision.

Stuart explains: "We didn't want it to feel like cricket was in your face with signed shirts on the wall. We wanted it to feel like a local country pub."



Which is exactly what it is. It is a Punch site that had previously been known as a wet-led community local pub.

The trio have made food more prominent (Dan's previous pub, Larwood and Voce, in Nottingham is a Roast Dinner of the Year winner) but this is clearly a pub where you can have a few pints without feeling pressured to order. Several regulars sit at the bar as we chat away, completely unfussed by the sight of Broad and Gurney. They might not work at the pub but they are familiar faces in here.

Dan says: "People come and ask if the lads are in or leave stuff behind to get signed. It's a massive help. I was happy in my last job but how often do you get the chance to run a pub with two England cricketers?"




Sport is also an important part of what they do, but again it doesn't dominate. We visit with Sky and as we talk, Stuart's eyes drift towards the IPL action being screened in the corner.

"It is a major thing for us to have sport because people do come to the pub to watch it and there is a great atmosphere when it is on," he says.

"We don't make too much of the cricket but we will do something around the Trent Bridge Test Match. Whether it is a link with AB de Villiers' wine or signed South Africa shirts."

While Harry and Stuart are unlikely to bring your meal to your table they have input in all areas. It's interesting to watch the two bowlers and Dan discuss the value of doing two courses for £15 or worry about being perceived as expensive (typical bowlers).

Stuart says: "We don't want it to be a once a month treat we want them to come down once a week."

So what's next in the Cat and Wickets empire?

Harry says: "We've looked at town centre bars, pubs with rooms and other pubs like this. We think we could make this work in other villages of a similar size but we are looking at a bigger site next."

And perhaps that's typical of sportsmen, always looking towards the next challenge.