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August 19, 2013
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.
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 ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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