Broad responds to call to 'spice it up'
Stuart Broad hailed a "special era" in English cricket after bowling England to a third successive Ashes series victory.
Broad, bowling with impressive pace and skill, claimed 11 wickets in the match as England went 3-0 up in the series at the end of the fourth Investec Test. If England win at The Oval, they will become the first England side to win four Tests in an Ashes series at home.
For much of the fourth day of the Durham Test, it seemed Australia might pull-off a remarkable victory. Set 299 to win, Australia cruised to 109 without loss in the afternoon before England captain, Alastair Cook, called upon Broad to "spice it up a bit."
Broad immediately appeared to find another gear and, troubling all the batsmen with his pace and reverse swing, claimed five wickets for 20 runs in 40 balls as Australia lost nine wickets in the final session of the day.
It left Broad, who finished with Test best figures of 11 for 121 in the match, reflecting on a "special" day for English cricket and a series that has been far more closely contested than the score line indicates.
"It was a very special afternoon," Broad said. "In this game, pretty much for each hour, it could have gone either way. Certainly at 40 for 3 in our second innings we were staring down the barrel a bit. Australia have shown in this series what a fighting side they are.
"We gathered ourselves at tea with Australia having won that session without doubt. Our bowlers were too caught up in hitting the deck hard which was a little too far back of a length. But once we got the ball fuller we got the ball to move and we were massively in the game.
"The great thing about this side is we have a lot of experience in the changing room. There are one or two in our dressing room who could become the leading ever [in terms of series wins for England] in the Ashes, which is a special era to play in.
"The guys put their heads together calmly and decided the best way forward. Alastair Cook was clear what he wanted the bowlers to do. We needed to make the Aussies play off the front foot a little bit more.
"Despite the openers beginning well it was a very hard wicket to start on and we always had in the back of our minds that with 300 on the board we can put a lot of pressure on the new batsmen.
"Once we got some early wickets after tea the bowlers got their tails up and we put the new batsmen under pressure. The crowd gave us a huge lift. It was a special moment when we took that final wicket."
Cook agreed that England had not managed to get things quite right with the ball in the first part of Australia's second innings, but was lost for words to describe Broad's match-winning spell.
"If we are totally honest, we didn't quite get it right with the ball," Cook said. "The pitch behaved a little better than we thought it would. This morning the new ball seemed to jag around a bit more for Australia and a few balls kept low. It didn't do that for us and maybe it took us a while to regroup. But fair play to Chris Rogers and David Warner: they batted very well.
"It was a fine spell of bowling from Broad. That's probably not the right adjective either. As a captain and knowing how important how that session was, well, if we lost that session we would have been struggling.
"Broady knew that and the lads knew that. He really charged in. When everything clicks and he is bowling in the high 80s with the control he has, it is incredibly hard to bat against. I said that against New Zealand when he got that seven-for at Lord's.
"Here was more important in terms of the situation of the game and in the Ashes. Words can't justify how good a spell of bowling that was. We also have to recognise the job Tim Bresnan did at the other end. We talk about bowling in partnerships but that end into the wind wasn't doing that much. He really built the pressure which was a huge credit to him. We built an incredible amount of pressure with a lot of good bowling."
The key moment came after a drinks break when Broad produced a brute of a delivery that left Michael Clarke off the pitch and hit the top of off stump. Losing their best batsman seemed to rock Australia's confidence and their middle-order were brushed aside as England's superior experience and confidence became more apparent.
"We went hard at Clarke and that seemed to work," Cook said. "We spiced it up. "As a side in these last 12 months, we have come through tough situations well. And when you have learned how not to get beaten, even when you are up against it, we have the players to take the game by the scruff of the neck
"When you have that experience as a group of players, it gives me as a captain a load of confidence. I can only praise our side, the fielders, everyone who played their part in making sure there was no let up, no partnership that could develop through a mis-field or anything like that.
"We'll enjoy what is a very special day and one that I'm going to look back on with huge fondness.
"We are going to get greedy and try and repeat that at The Oval. But we can think about that with sore heads tomorrow."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo