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November 13, 2013
Broad relishing Ashes atmosphere
Stuart Broad came as close as he might get on a busy Ashes tour to a spot of Australian beach culture. He spent most of the day in Sydney feeling as if he was running through sand and then took to the water to ease his aching calves and hamstrings. He might almost have spent the day on Bondi, were it not for the benefits he accrued from 20 excellently-marshalled overs.
If there was no lifeguard to keep an eye on Broad's safety as he committed himself to a much-needed swimdown, there was probably an England bodyguard somewhere in the vicinity in recognition of his reputation as England's Ashes villain.
So far, though, the England player who irritated Australia for not walking for a nick and indulging in some equally obvious gamesmanship by taking off his boot for no good reason remains a model of charm and politeness - and Australia, it seems, is responding in kind.
The Gabbatoir might give him a hard time during the first Test, just as the Barmy Army cannot wait to renew acquaintances with Mitchell Johnson, but so far everything has gone, well, swimmingly.
"It's been really good," he said. "It's a fantastic tour - if you can't enjoy touring Australia you're not going to enjoy anywhere: great restaurants, lovely wine, good people."
"The receptions at all the grounds have been great - there's not been an issue at all," he added. But I'm sure it will be a bit livelier at the Gabba, especially now Mitch is playing as well. The fans will be having a field day. It will be good fun.
"There's excitement about the whole tour. I think the Aussie public have got a bit of an excitement from feeling their side is a bit more settled and are really coming for us, and we've got a lot of confidence in our own ability. If I was a fan I'd be really excited about this series - I think it's going to be extremely entertaining."
Broad, approaching his peak, at 27, needs a good Ashes series to assert his worth to the Australian public. He has only played played two Ashes Tests in Australia, his involvement being curtailed in Adelaide three years ago by a torn stomach muscle. He has played 102 ODIs and 48 T20Is, but not one of them has been in Australia. Today was his first experience of a first-class match at the SCG.
Once the early tinge of green had departed, the SCG was a demanding place for England's attack. The promise of five wickets down for 93 departed as Ryan Carters and Peter Nevill amassed an unbroken stand of 178. Broad, though, acquitted himself admirably, his 3 for 36 in 20 overs proof enough.
"They are some of the hardest conditions I've bowled in with the sand-based outfield," he said. "It was really hard to get a grip, and every stride took quite a bit out of the legs. I feel horrendous right now - my legs are barking at me. But it was good to get 20 overs in and a full day in the field, the first since September for me."
Broad played down England's difficult choice of third seamer to support him and James Anderson in Brisbane - an even more disconcerting choice in a four-strong attack which leaves no room for under-performance.
"It's hugely exciting we have such a choice," he said. "I generally feel whoever goes into that seamer's spot will do a fantastic job. Boyd's bounce is exceptional, Finny we know has a fantastic strike rate in test match cricket and Trem has won games for England with his huge frame and fantastic consistency Each of the guys have something to offer. It's a tough call and luckily it's not my call to make."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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