The Investec Ashes 2013 August 19, 2013

This England team is tough - Broad

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Administrators rarely receive credit for success. While they may be the first to blame after defeat, it tends to be the players who gain the plaudits after success. Administrators are usually the first to blame and the last to be praised.

So it was notable that Stuart Broad, one of the heroes of England's series-clinching victory in Durham, should credit England's selectors for their part in the side's recent successes.

Broad, who rated his performance at Durham as "probably the best I have bowled in a Test", credited England's continuity of selection policy as vital to developing the spirit that has enabled the side to cope with the inevitable setbacks they will encounter and engendering a resilience and toughness he described as "unpleasant" to play against and "un-English."

While there was a time when England discarded players like other teams discarded socks - 29 men represented England in the 1989 Ashes - Broad felt that the shared experiences of recent times - the failures as well as the wins - had created a level of support and confidence in one another that helped cope with any challenges that arise.

"When you have played a lot of cricket together and you are 30 for 3, which we have been a few times in this series, there is no panic in the changing room," Broad said. "We know someone is going to step up.

"That comes from awful experiences like in Jamaica when we got bowled out for 50. Those journeys along the way help grow a belief because you have the experience of when you are in trouble of getting out of it.

"We had a great moment after the Durham game. We sat around having a beer in the changing room in a circle chatting about everything that had happened in the series. On Sky they were showing highlights of the 2009 series and a lot of the guys involved had played 16 Tests or so. The same group is still here and now we have played 60 or 70 Tests.

"We have some good experience in the changing room. Anyone who has an idea will stand up and speak their mind, which is a strong place to be.

"The changing room expects a lot all the time. If we have had a bad two hours we are honest, and say let's sharpen our game.

"When guys have played more cricket together, you can take honest feedback a lot better. When you have played two or three Tests and someone says 'that is not what is expected of you,' you go into your shell a bit. Now you can say, 'sorry, I am better than that,' and bowl better. We are honest. There are times when there might be disagreements, but it is international sport and sometimes that is what you need.

"I certainly think we are an unpleasant team to play against at the minute. Teams will not come and play against us and enjoy the experience, which is what we want"

"We are lucky we play in a time when selectors back players. It would have been different if we had this group of players in the 1990s. If they had two bad Tests they would be gone.

"But now, because the selectors have backed a group of players, we have a collective experience and belief in each other."

It is that belief in one another that has, in part, created the resilience which has helped England go unbeaten for 12 successive Tests despite times - notably in Nagpur and Auckland - when they have had to fight hard for the draw.

And while some sections of the media have found some aspects of England's play - such as Broad's decision not to 'walk' at Trent Bridge or the side's delaying tactics there and at Old Trafford - unpalatable, Broad feels they are a characteristic of which to be proud. He feels they are symptomatic of a ruthlessness that has played a huge part in England's improved form and believes that the supporters appreciate that quality.

"One thing about this England team is we are tough," Broad said. "We come through tricky times and we stand up and want to be counted. It is quite an un-English thing what this team has got. We want that to continue.

"There is no doubt the country is proud of this team and what we have achieved because fans like winning teams. We are proud of that. We do have a win-at-all-costs mentality. We want to win, we want to make the fans happy.

"Of course we always have a responsibility to the fans and youngsters growing up because you are role models. But you have to play hard and play fair. That is the spirit of the game and how it is defined. The whole 'walking' debacle I thought was pretty poor journalism because it was just one player who was picked up. I have named seven or eight Australians and four Englishmen where that has not happened in this series."

Certainly, the furore over Broad not walking at Trent Bridge was hard to fathom. While players on both sides have admitted not walking when they knew they had edged the ball this series - Brad Haddin admitted as much in the same game - some aspects of the media seemed to latch on to the Broad incident in a disproportionately strong way. One British tabloid even compared him to cycling's drugs cheat Lance Armstrong.

"We have been accused of all sorts," Broad said. "Those sorts of things are not remembered. It is winning the series that will be remembered. All this [silicon] tape trollop that got talked about was irrelevant to us as a team. It does not affect whether we put the ball in the right place.

"That stuff I hear is just embarrassing. The English public love winning especially against Australia. They know they are going to watch us fighting and trying to win this game because it is a huge game in the series. 4-0 is on our minds. We need to keep the cricket we have been playing going."

That cricket remains hard, uncompromising and, in Broad's words, "unpleasant." But it is fuelled by the experience of losing and wanting to avoid that pain in the future. And Broad hopes that the manner of Australia's defeat in Durham - losing nine wickets in the final session of day four having earned a potentially match-winning position - may prove particularly damaging.

"Any time you lose as a side it is damaging," he said. "Australia will have felt they could have won that game. Looking at our point of view that gives us huge encouragement knowing we can win from positions when everyone thought we were in trouble. For us to turn it around in the way we did shows the character we have.

"They are the moments that, the further we go in our careers, we can draw on. There might be moments in Australia when we are really behind the game, but we can remember coming back to win. We certainly talk about that sort of thing when we are out there and remember the sort of fight we need to show.

"I certainly think we are an unpleasant team to play against at the minute. Teams will not come and play against us and enjoy the experience, which is what we want.

"That Champions Trophy final was one of worst experiences I have had. Watching the Indians win a game we should have won. It is a feeling that sends you into a complete low as a player.

"There is a huge hunger within this side to keep putting in strong performances. There is no bigger carrot this week than being first side to beat Australia 4-0. We met up as a team last night to discuss that. There could be a danger that we could just go and enjoy the week but no, we have got Twenty20 games, ODIs and another Test series against these boys.

"We need to keep throwing punches and damaging these players. There is a lot of cricket against these guys and if we give them momentum they are a dangerous enough side to hurt us."

Stuart Broad is an Investec Test Cricket Ambassador. The specialist bank and asset manager is title sponsor of the Ashes.Investec.co.uk/cricket or @investeccricket

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shan156 on August 21, 2013, 14:30 GMT

    @jmcilhinney, re: @King Jayesh's comment, if England are so poor, think how poor India must be since they lost to us both home and away. And, to those who think Eng. are not tough because SA beat us, winning and losing is part and parcel of sport. Aus., at their pomp, lost a series to India and drew at home to India and NZ. SA have drawn their last home series against Eng, Ind, and Aus. This Eng. team is hard to beat. Broad doesn't say it is impossible. If people don't want to accept it, that's fine. But, it doesn't change facts. While we lost the Oval test easily against SA last year, we showed some fight in the next 2 tests. If I remember right, we took first innings leads in both. If we had caught better, we could have won at Lord's.

  • Blewey on August 21, 2013, 14:11 GMT

    I'd argue that England's attitude is a not-lose-at-all-costs one rather than win-at-all-costs, given their backs to the wall batting and I guess even delaying tactics. But some fine words from broad.

  • Vleis on August 21, 2013, 8:57 GMT

    Broad says, "I certainly think we are an unpleasant team to play against at the minute." I beg to differ. This time last year, England allowed SA to score 637 for 2, including Amla's 311*, in the first test. Then...they dropped one of the few players that showed some spine for the final test to help SA coast to a 2 nil victory. Jolly nice of you chaps! Tally ho!

  • CustomKid on August 21, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    When the Aussies conducted themselves in such a manner in the now infamous Sydney test against India, where they won with an over to spare, the Australian Media crucified the national team for being unsporting cheats. To me that was the day Australian Cricket died and the national team has never been the same since. We weren't the best in the world for 10+ years nor the Windies in the 70-80's because they were nice guys. They were hard nose fighters, playing dirty if need be to win at all costs.

    While I despise broad and most of the English team (only because they're thrashing us lol) at least their public and media aren't lambasting them for playing good hard tough cricket.

    Until Australia show that hardness they're going to languish. THey need someone like Allan Boarder who can be real nasty and back up the talk with performance. I don't know who can do that? Maybe warner as he likes to throw a few punches from time to time? Boof needs to instill nastiness not niceness.

  • SJCYorkshire on August 21, 2013, 7:44 GMT

    Stuart I can assure you the England fans do appreciate what the team is doing. The sniping from the likes of Warne and Agnew is just that and is a bit pathetic really. We appreciate that England are a very good side with an excellent captain who is as good a role model we have had in a team sport for years. Continue to ignore the white noise of criticism it's nothing more than a pointless distraction and keep racking up the wins. At times it has been close in this series but 3-0 is a more than fair reflection of the relative merits of each side, and arguably is in part to a significant underperformance of several key England players. England have nothing to fear against this Australian side home or away - we only come unstuck against world class resolute batting (SA) and mystery spin (Pakistan) neither of which Australia has. Keep up the good work starting today!

  • jonesy2 on August 21, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    this England team are poor and will be duly smashed by the next team they play. its just Australia are in such a state that an under 12s side would beat them, they are beating themselves mainly because they don't care about winning and aren't in the business of winning.

  • Arthaurian on August 21, 2013, 6:33 GMT

    If only South Africa had such an aggressive mentality in a world cup. But they are too soft

  • jmcilhinney on August 21, 2013, 6:11 GMT

    @King Jayesh on (August 20, 2013, 17:12 GMT), that makes perfect sense: England are bad because if England were worse or Australia were better then Australia would be the better team. I feel a bit unlucky myself because I could be a Test cricketer too if only I was really good at cricket.

  • AbbaJura on August 21, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    How cud they be the 1st to beat the Oz 4-0, India dd it nt so long ago and SA did it in Aus in 1969? Hope Australia wins this game. And to those sayin SA only scrapped to win 1-0 to this same team. Remeember, that Aus had Hussey and Ponting and winning is winning. Eng failed to to that in NZ....

  • Thegimp on August 21, 2013, 4:18 GMT

    @jmcilhinney....OK Maybe This current Aust team saying that they are tough after beating Sri Lanka at home.....although I would like to compare Bangladesh's top six test averages against Australia's over the last say 10 tests and discounting Clarke, I would bet that there is not much of a difference.

    @YorkshirePudding that's exactly what I am saying mate. With a little luck in the first test, a little less rain in the third and one determined partnership in the forth and they could be right in it. Not discounting what Eng have done, they are a solid side but a lot of people think Broad is being being a little Self congratulary in this article. Different if someone else said it about the team but his saying it represents his immaturity and leaves himself open for fire but that's just Broad isn't it. Oh and regarding the negative cricket comment and not being fined. You can play negative cricket within the rules mate, underarm bowling was within the rules when Greggy boy ordered it.