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The devil's in the detail as Stuart Broad gets his horns up for the cause

England's old stage-seizer sparks anarchic scenes on thrilling fourth day at Edgbaston

The devil on Joe Root's shoulder just before 11am. The demon terrorising Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith just before 7pm. A day in the life of Stuart Broad is rich and varied.
On Monday, Broad added a new entry to his roller-dex of Ashes moments. A vital top-order dual hit on Labuschagne and Smith in the space of 12 deliveries means we enter the final day of a compelling first Test with victory as likely for England as Australia.
Removing the No.1 and No.2-ranked batters in the world is worthy of dedicating a thousand words to Broad, particularly at a time when England were desperate for something to take with them into Tuesday. Most of those words might as well be Broad's own from back in April, when he claimed he'd invented a mystery outswinger in order to get Labuschagne and Smith uncertain outside off stump ... which is exactly what they proved to be when they came into his sights this evening.
But we know the 36-year-old Broad does not simply bowl 'top-of off wobble-seam, top-of-off wobble-seam, surprise outswinger'. He is a rambunctious spirit possessing an inner light that is less soothing and more strobe - and evidently infectious, as Root found out before walking out to play a reverse-ramp to the first ball of the morning, delivered by Australia's skipper Pat Cummins
"I sit next to Rooty in the changing room, and he just went, 'I fancy a reverse-scoop for six, first ball'," Broad revealed. "I said, 'If it's in your gut, you've got to go for it - that's what we're about.' And he goes, 'I'll decide when I'm walking out'. Obviously he didn't change his mind."
Root missed with that initial gambit. But the statement had been made. The dressing-room and crowd were immediately dialled up to 11. For that agenda-setting first half-hour, he remained a batter possessed, going on to successfully scoop Scott Boland for six and four in successive deliveries, until - with the field now dancing to his beat - he reverted briefly to more typical accumulative nudges. But then, on 46, he skipped down the track to Nathan Lyon and was stumped for the first time in his career.
It was from that point on England began losing their grip on the game, having had a fist-full of it at 129 for three - a lead of 136 - with Root and Harry Brook at ease and scoring freely. Were it not for important late-order runs, this game might be skewed much further Australia's way. Broad finished unbeaten on 10 but ensured that 44 more were added during his time at the crease, alongside Ollie Robinson and James Anderson.
"Today's just been one of those days that sums up Ashes cricket really," Broad said. "You're getting ahead of the game, then you lose a wicket, you think you're getting ahead of the game, then you lose a wicket again."
As for those key dismissals, Broad was asked if he has a mental edge over both, particularly after handing Labuschagne a first golden duck of his career in the first innings, as part of a haul of three for 68 that included bagging David Warner for a 15th time. "Be nice, wouldn't it?" he said with a smile. "I've had a lot great battles, and they've probably won most of them." He's certainly winning this one.
"One thing we know as a bowling group, you've got to try and put them under pressure early," he added. "They're the sort of guys, if they get to 30, 40, they don't give it away cheaply. We know as a group we want to try and make them play as much as we possibly can early. They've scored a lot of runs against us as a group, so to see the back of them twice in this Test match without too much damage is awesome."
For Broad to have had the match he has so far is a testament to Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum. As much for the rejuvenation in the quick's career under their tenure as for the decision to select him in this fixture. Smith's demise - the ball seaming away after angling in to catch an edge through to Jonny Bairstow - was Broad's 50th wicket under the new regime, taking him to 587 overall.
There is one more day for Broad to impose himself on this game, then plenty more beyond that, with four Tests to come. And as much as his own individual plans to the likes of Usman Khawaja and Travis Head will determine who ends up on top, there is a more collective approach to be adopted around striking a balance between attack and defence with unconventional fields, bordering on rascal.
"When you've got a set target to defend, you've got to keep one eye on the boundaries as well," Broad said. "And actually, on a pitch like this, where it's quite slow and hard to create a mistake from a batter, you don't want to leak too many runs easily waiting for that ball to break through. I think we'll be smart with the fields we use. We need to protect the boundaries in certain players' strengths. But ultimately our No.1 focus is to take wickets, and how do we do that? From creating pressure.
"You'll probably see more fielders scattered around, almost like in-out fields. You know how Warnie used to bowl?" he added. "He'd have four people around the bat and three people on the boundary. Three an over is not hurting you, then you get the wicket and you can apply some pressure."
Citing Shane Warne felt like a deliberate nod to the 2005 fixture here, which England secured by two runs on a pulsating final day. The similarity between the targets - 282 then, 281 now - and the fact Tuesday is also sold out adds to the sense that this Ashes series will recreate that great spectacle of 2005.
"I'm quite conscious I don't want to build up too much hype of that '05 Edgbaston because I'm not sure we want that going to two runs tomorrow from our point of view, do we?" Broad said.
But a veteran whose success has fundamentally come from his unrivalled feel of the game is all too aware of how the cards are lining up, on the field and off it. Four days in, it's not hard to imagine that day five will be every bit as gripping as what's gone before.
"It does feel like the same energy as '05," Broad said. "And if we have a series like that we're going to inspire a lot of kids to play the game, aren't we?"

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo