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England in Australia, The Ashes 2010-11

Broad backs England's spirit in adversity

Andrew Miller

October 27, 2010

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Stuart Broad acknowledges the standing ovation from the Lord's crowd after reaching a sensational hundred, England v Pakistan, 4th npower Test, Lord's, August 27 2010
Stuart Broad believes that England can win in Australia for the first time in 24 years © Getty Images
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Stuart Broad believes that the off-field issues that he and his England team-mates had to overcome in the course of a tumultuous 2010 season will stand them in good stead as they prepare for the unique pressures of an Ashes tour of Australia. England depart for Perth on Friday morning brimful of confidence following an 18-month run of success at all levels of international cricket, having come through an exacting test of character during the match-fixing furore that marred their home series against Pakistan.

"It's been a tough summer, but when I look back at the cricket side of things, it's been one of my most enjoyable with the England team," Broad told ESPNcricinfo's Switch Hit podcast during a NatWest CricketForce event in Nottingham. "We had to deal with a huge amount of off-the-field controversies, and we showed that when it came to it, we could focus on our cricket and perform well. We know that on a tour of Australia there's going to be a lot of outside interest, and a lot of things going off off the field, but we've shown this summer that we can focus on what we need to do on the pitch when the time comes."

England's new-found will to win was best epitomised by their victory in the final ODI of the summer, at the Rose Bowl in September. Pakistan had come back from 2-0 down to square the series against an England side reeling from the now-discredited claims from the PCB chairman, Ijaz Butt, that they had accepted a bribe to lose the third match at The Oval. In a tense contest, Broad took 3 for 25 in eight overs to help secure a 121-run victory, and cue euphoric scenes at the end of an arduous campaign.

"The memories of that series will help us massively in Australia," said Broad. "We had a lot of conversations and meetings as a team, about the controversies and what the chairman of the PCB had claimed about us. We had a lot going on, so that win was huge in our changing room, and everyone in the country enjoyed it I think, because the atmosphere at the Rose Bowl was one of the best I've played in in England. To have gone the whole summer unbeaten in all the series we've played, off the back of a Twenty20 World Cup win, we couldn't be going to Australia in a better place."

The Pakistan scandal also impinged on what should, by rights, have been one of the proudest achievements of Broad's career - his career-best 169 in the fourth and final Test at Lord's that helped rescue England from the depths of 102 for 7 in the first innings. However, even as he and Jonathan Trott were smashing all manner of records in a 332-run eighth-wicket stand, the News of the World was preparing to publish its allegations against Pakistan's bowlers, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir. Broad, however, insisted he wasn't bitter at having his moment of glory so overshadowed.

"I don't resent it at all," he said. "One thing [to bear in mind] was that it was accusations of spot-fixing rather than match-fixing so I know they were still trying to get me out. But at the end of the day I see that hundred as a stepping stone for things for the future. Obviously it was a lovely achievement to score a hundred at Lord's, and get on the honours board, and more importantly to help get the team out of a lot of trouble at the time, but I just see that as part of my development towards becoming a better cricketer. I'm not going to look at it as the be-all and end-all, but it gives me confidence for scoring more in the future."

The innings reawakened the prospect of Broad one day developing into a genuine allrounder in the mould of Ian Botham or Andrew Flintoff, but for the time being England look set to put their faith in a four-man attack with the wicketkeeper Matt Prior balancing the side at No. 7. "When you look at the best Nos. 6 and 7 in the world, they all average above 45, so gone are the days when you could get away with someone at 6 or 7 who's below 40," he said. "You need to have those runs on the board.

That's not to say, however, that his batting prowess will be wasted this winter. "A big strength of our team has been our strength in depth in lower-order batting," Broad added. "Jimmy [Anderson]'s come on well, Graeme Swann scores useful runs and having Matt Prior at 7 who averages almost 50 has been a huge advantage. Having those extra runs has been like having an extra bowler, because more first-innings runs creates pressure to get more wickets."

England's last visit to Australia four years ago culminated in a 5-0 whitewash, but Broad has plenty reasons to approach the return trip with optimism. On the one hand, his father Chris was the hero of England's last victory Down Under in 1986-87 with three centuries in the five-match series; on the other, Broad himself secured the spoils in his last Test against the Aussies at The Oval last summer, when his five-wicket burst on the second afternoon set England up for their decisive 197-run victory.

"I look back with great fondness on that Oval Test, and it gives me great confidence that I can perform against Australia," said Broad. "I enjoy playing against them, I love the competitive side of the game and I think they play sport in a fantastic way. It's always a battle, it's always very tough and they never give up. I love the battle that playing against them provides, and I learnt a huge amount from the last Ashes series. We'll be ready to go, and ready to throw the first punch."

"I was only a couple of months old when we last won the Ashes in Australia," he added. "It's a very long time ago and we've not won that many Tests in Australia since then, but of course we believe we can win. We have huge confidence in each other's abilities within the changing room, and we are massively excited about the opportunity we have. Every player is dying to get out there into the sunshine and start practising, and with three first-class warm-up games before the first Test, we'll have no excuses not to be firing on that first morning at Brisbane.

"One thing that's shown over the last 18 months is that different players have stood up at different times," he said. "We're not relying on anyone in particular, we've got players in the squad who can all step up on different days, and that's a real advantage that we have. But one thing we're not doing is looking ahead to Sydney in January and thinking about lifting the Ashes. We're focusing on the first hour in Brisbane, whether we bat or bowl, and making sure we get ourselves in a strong position, and set the tone for the series. We've been good at that recently, and it's important we get that right in Australia."

Stuart Broad is an ambassador for NatWest CricketForce 2011. Clubs can register at natwestcricketforce@ecb.co.uk and find further information at www.ecb.co.uk/natwestcricketforce

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

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Posted by Terry on (October 29, 2010, 15:02 GMT)

Broad has talent but my recollection of his reaction to 'adversity' was excessive petulance and throwing a ball at a Pakistani batsman. Then again his father did demolish his stumps in reaction to an umpiring decision during his career so maybe its in the genes. Will need to keep his cool even when being serenaded with his theme song ....'Dude looks like a lady'. Am glad it less than a month to the First Test so we can see some cricket rather than the usual blah blah blah from both sides.

Posted by Marcio on (October 29, 2010, 3:28 GMT)

At any rate it will be a good test for England. i tend to think that Australia's recent "bad" run has been overdone, and England's good run in turn a little over-hyped. In other words Australia is not as bad as some are suggesting, and England are not quite as good as some are saying. I think this will be quite tough tour. England did win the last ashes, but that was at home, and to be honest, I think that absolutely everything went their way in a series where they were the second best team on the field on most days. A dawn series would have been more indicative of the series.But in the end, the results are all that anyone remembers.

Posted by Phani on (October 29, 2010, 2:55 GMT)

Broad, get ready for YUVI TREATMENT from Aussies.

Posted by Jeffrey on (October 29, 2010, 0:44 GMT)

Stuart Broad is a good cricketer with great enthusiasm but must remain focused on the job at hand. On tactic of the Australian Press will be the get the English players all worked up, resulting in less that peak performances. I expect runs and wickets from Broad, Prior and Swann and victory for England...... but the players must remain focused! The top order is good!

Posted by des on (October 28, 2010, 23:26 GMT)

Broad is going to get roasted down under. He'll learn that childish stroppiness and talking back to umpires doesn't make one 'hard'.

Posted by Dummy4 on (October 28, 2010, 20:54 GMT)

Is it just me or is he over-rated. His father is the only reason why he's in the team. Watch English get a bloody hiding from.

Posted by Arron on (October 28, 2010, 16:45 GMT)

Truemans_Ghost: the best example in recent years is the treatment of Flintoff. Not just "Arise Sir Freddie" in the Mirror, but Simon Barnes's hagiography in the Times. Atherton and Haigh stood out from the crowd by writing tempered articles that queried the myth, long before he finally retired. Even then, everyone (including those two) was sucked in to the ridiculous hype over the Lord's 5-for and run out of Ponting in 2009. In both games, Australia were "chasing" over 500! These days, even broadsheet writers seem to cite England's "6 successive series without defeat", without mentioning that three of those "series" comprised two Tests against Ban or WI, one was against an outclassed Pakistan, and one (in SA) was a very fortunate draw. In advance of a tour of Australia, where our record since 1986 is utterly woeful, I'd rather read less drum-beating and more analysis of our recent performances on tour. Where, lo and behold, we've only beaten Ban and NZ since the last Ashes...

Posted by Grant on (October 28, 2010, 14:14 GMT)

Who is the uncritical british "media" we always hear about? When I read atherton or pringle or scyld berry or listen to switch hit on cricinfo I generally seem to get quite intellegent , balanced views. They praise them when they win but usually temper that praise. The Sun and Mirror might rant and exagerate, but they are not what counts in the English cricketing myth. Seems that "everyone knows" that the English press is excessively complimetary of the English team, so that is accepted, regardless of what s actually written or said.

Posted by Colin on (October 28, 2010, 12:56 GMT)


It always amuses me to read how England and its media reckon they are the best team ever. Would you like to back this up with a shred of proof? And please don't give me the nonsense written in the tabloids, because as we all know, the majority of what is written is populist, one-sided drivel. I'm pretty certain that most broadsheets in this country would say England have a good chance of winning over in Australia, but no more than that. Most people I know would have the Aussies as slight favourites, and that seems fair enough to me. I can't imagine any of the respected cricket writers claiming the England team to be the 'greatest ever'. I suggest that you take a more objective approach yourself rather than jumping on the usual 'England think they are great' bandwagon, because other than a few idiotic fans who are better off watching football, no-one thinks England are anything other than what they are: a good Test side.

Posted by Arron on (October 28, 2010, 9:20 GMT)

Agree with the general view here. To me Broad epitomises England in terms of being over-praised and over-rated, with inconvenient truths largely ignored by an uncritical media. One of the most depressing aspects of this summer - since overshadowed by you-know-what - is the extent to which ex-players and writers excused his repeated petulance, mistaking it for "passion". In this article he comes across as very polite and determined, but we know only too well the contrast with his on-field demeanour.

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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