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Stuart Broad shares many traits with his father, Chris, not least the appetite for a contest and a fiery passion to win
July 5, 2009
When Stuart Broad was six months old his dad, Chris, took Australia by storm with three centuries as England regained the Ashes having previously had their chances written off. Now Stuart wants to claim the family bragging rights so that his father's 1986-87 triumph can be replaced with his own success story.
As England won the thrilling 2005 series Broad was beginning his professional career with Leicestershire so was often restricted to catching the television highlights in the evening. However, as with millions around the country, he remembers watching the nerve-jangling final stages of the Edgbaston Test. It sowed the seeds of wanting to experience the same excitement himself, although his elevation to England's new-ball role has come quicker than he expected.
"I certainly never dreamt of having a chance to play in the next home Ashes series, it's all moved on very quickly for me but it will be a fantastic opportunity," he said. "Hopefully we can play the same sort of cricket as 2005, that's why it was so famous. There was always something going on.
"I remember watching the last day of the Edgbaston Test and being as nervous as anyone else. I actually find it more nervous watching on telly than being involved because you get a very different perspective. My Mum couldn't even watch it - she was just in the kitchen pottering around. God knows how she feels when I'm actually playing."
However, while memories of 2005 are at the forefront of everyone's minds in the lead-up to the first Test, Broad was quick to mention the more recent result. "It's good to look back at what went right, but there's been an Ashes series since then when we lost 5-0 so there's a balance to be taken," he said. "We talk about 2005 because it was great to watch, but there were some hurt people who played when we lost and they want to put it right."
While Broad junior doesn't yet share the Ashes-winning glory of his father, there are many traits that have been handed down a generation. Top of that list is a fiery temperament that has brought Stuart to the attention of a few match referees (the current profession of Chris) early in his career. "My Dad is the first on the phone to tell me to calm down, but I haven't booted stumps down or anything like that," Broad said with a wry smile, perhaps in reference to his fathers' infamous demolition of the stumps after his dismissal during the Bicentenary Test in 1987-88.
However, he isn't about to tone down the aggression and believes it's vital that England stand face-to-face with Australia. It was a tactic that worked well in 2005 when Simon Jones and Matthew Hayden had a confrontation at Edgbaston during the one-dayers.
"I believe as a bowler it's important to have a presence and not just to bowl at the batsmen," Broad said. "That doesn't mean you have to talk at him or particularly do anything, you just have to let him know you are there. I'll certainly be doing that in this Ashes series and that's what we've done well since Christmas - standing up as a side and looking at the opposition, being aggressive as a team, but in the right way."
And he doesn't quite know what he will get in return from an Australian side that is lacking many of the heavy-hitters from the past. "It's an unknown quantity because a lot of them a quite new. Guys like Matthew Hayden and Shane Warne would try and work you out mentally but we don't know what to expect this time and that's exciting. If someone gives it to me I'll look at them in the eye and not back down. Sometimes I do get a little hot-headed, but that's only because I care so much about the result. I'll learn and get better."
Broad has only faced Australia once at international level - an ICC World Twenty20 encounter in South Africa in 2007 - but as with many young players, part of his cricketing education was a spell down under after leaving school. At the time he was mainly a batsman - the growth spurt that shot him towards the fast-bowling ranks was just around the corner - but he remembers a "feisty" period at Hoppers Crossing, a club near Melbourne, where even his team-mates sometimes had to calm him down.
"Each time I went out I used to get a barrage about my Dad," he said. "I was at that 17-18 age where I wasn't just going to take it and I went back at them a few times."
He recalls one match where he and an opposition bowler went hard at eachother for the whole day. Broad walked off with a century to his name, but when back in the dressing room he shook hands with his on-field enemy and they shared a drink in the bar. "That's fantastic," he said. "Everyone loves a battle on the pitch. It's exciting when you are involved but as long as the two blokes can have a beer at the end all is well."
Now, preparing to take on Australia in the Test arena he feels it's about time the family video collect was given a new addition after plenty of viewings of the 1986-97 series. "It was on repeat in my Dad's house for the first 10 years of my life," Broad joked. "He's very proud of his achievements and the whole family are. He remembers that tour being very written off at the start and it didn't build-up very well. But the way they played got everyone behind them. He talks about that and always says I'll never eclipse what he did in his career until I win an Ashes series so that's my aim."
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?