Broad has picked up 14 wickets in the Ashes so far. Getty

James Anderson's out for the summer. Joe Denly and Jason Roy are trading places. Australia are entertaining alterations of their own. And outside cricket, well, let's not dwell on that.

The point is, here we are, sat in a constant state of flux, something new at every turn, changes for changes' sake and with little idea if any of it is for the better. It's a situation reflective of both teams in this Ashes series: level on points - one apiece with two to play - nothing certain barring uncertainty, especially with the batting.

But if there has been one constant, an ever-present who has at least kept England regular, it has been Stuart Broad. In the absence of long-term partner Anderson, the 33-year old has stepped up to not just lead the attack but guide the rest of the team, too. He was a steady, respected voice in the Headingley dressing room when 359 was chased down, even if he was not quite able to keep his cool during the tense moments, notably the Nathan Lyon's botched run out when just two were needed for victory.

On the field, the man expected to be winding down this summer has been doing anything but. Only Pat Cummins has taken more than Broad's 14 wickets, which have come at an average of 25.35. No surprise, of course: does anyone raise their game for an Ashes quite like Broad?

He hopes - in fact, he is sure - that Anderson will return this winter and the pair can rekindle their relationship as English cricket's deadliest opening duo. Nevertheless, Broad at this juncture is pleasantly surprised at how things have gone without his regular new ball companion.

"This is the best I have bowled for three or four years," says the veteran of 130 Tests, currently in his seventh Ashes series. That's no coincidence. A lot has been worked on, starting with his general approach to the crease, which was fine-tuned in Sri Lanka.

"I see it as fate that I missed out a bit last winter. I had time to sit back and try and change a few things technically, shortening my run up has helped my tempo and kept my stride pattern short. I think I am bowling as quick as I have for a while which surprises me more than most - that's a rhythm thing and a tempo thing."

"At 33 that's a great place to be because I'm hungry to keep playing. But I also know you can't look too far ahead in international cricket. I feel I have reinvented myself in the last six or seven weeks on the international stage and that's come from hunger and drive to get better. That's encouraging sign at 33, I'm not tailing off."

The other tell for Broad is his match-up against David Warner. This series, four of the left-hander's six dismissals belong to the right-armer.

"I'd say Warner up until this series had the better of me really. And I'd always focussed on his outside edge thinking running the ball across him would bring in the slips. But actually the bloke has got incredible hand-eye coordination so if you missed your line at all it seems to disappear through the covers.

"I had a change of mindset in this series a little bit to try and bring the stumps into play more to him. To look to nip it back onto off-stump and then if it holds its line it brings the outside edge in and that actually limits the scoring options slightly. And also the pitches have been in our favour with the new ball. I don't want to take too much credit that I've out-thought him or anything - it's the fact that it's been a really good time to bowl with that new ball."

While the direct approach has helped him against Warner, Broad reckons the returning Steve Smith will have to confront some more short-pitched bowling from Jofra Archer.

The pair have indirectly exchanged words via the written press ever since Smith was felled by an Archer bouncer at Lord's on the fourth day. As a result of the concussion protocols, Smith missed the Headingley fixture, where Archer bagged his maiden five-wicket haul in Tests.

Having spent the majority of the last fortnight in the nets, as well as a smidge of time in the middle against Derbyshire in a touch match, the pair will square off in Old Trafford with the series on the line. It will make for yet more compelling viewing in a series that has already provided so much on that front.

"It was a nasty hit wasn't it?" said Broad, recalling the Lord's incident. "First thing it's great Steve is ok and coming back into Test cricket. But Test cricket is a brutal sport, it's a sport that countries go hell for leather against each other. I'm sure when Steve comes in Jofra will be in Rooty's ear wanting the ball, no doubt about that," said Broad.

"That's the intensity Test cricket brings, it's theatre. I might be stood at mid-on but I'll be excited when Jofra asks for that ball and Steve comes in. It was a really tasty bit of cricket at Lord's, Smith was on 70 or 80, playing beautifully, and Jofra went from 84mph to 95mph. He was really charging in. That sort of cricket is awesome to watch on the telly or from the stands but when you're stood at mid-on it's pretty special. Hopefully we can have a battle like that again. There will be a period in this game where those two come together again and touch wood I'm on the pitch to view it."