Authors: Rio Sports
Stuart Broad believes the current England team are primed to defend the Ashes this winter after declaring “this is our time” due to the growing experience of the emerging generation coupled with that of himself, Alastair Cook and Jimmy Anderson.
“It’s hard not to be” was Broad’s response when asked about the confidence of Joe Root’s side, who after dispatching South Africa and West Indies during the summer can now talk openly about the much-anticipated series in Australia that starts at the Gabba on 23 November.
The 31-year-old, speaking on Tuesday after playing cricket outside 10 Downing Street in support of the Chance to Shine charity, outlined the reasons for this, explaining how Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Root, who have between 39 and 60 Test caps, meaning that they are now unfazed by differing match situations.
Broad said: “That is when you learn as a player how to get your team out of trouble or how to put your foot on the throat, so to speak. I think we’re in an exciting place but Australia are the same. I don’t think we know their team; they’ve had injuries but you know it will be a dangerous team.”
Test defeats at Trent Bridge and Headingley, to go with a raft of dropped catches throughout the season that had the head coach, Trevor Bayliss, bristling, and newcomers in the batting lineup, serve as a reminder that England remain imperfect at present.
But it was the response to the first of those losses in Nottingham – a 340-run defeat to South Africa that prompted a change in the balance of the side – and that they did not fold in Leeds when West Indies dominated the opening two days, that shows signs of development for Broad. “We’re close to having our team sorted for the Gabba,” he said.
Australia have not lost at their Brisbane fortress since 1988 against West Indies and Broad knows all about the hostile environment England will face there, having been portrayed as public enemy No1 by the local Courier Mail in the lead-up to the first Test in the 2013‑14 whitewash defeat after controversially standing his ground at Trent Bridge in the previous English summer.
A similar environment is expected this time around. “As an England player you’d be disappointed if you didn’t get stick there – that’s gone on for years,” Broad said. “But I love all that, as you’re in the battle straight away and it sort of helps me as a cricketer.
“I was sledged by the West Indies 12th man [Raymon Reifer] at Lord’s last week when I came out to bat – that got me in the fight straight away and helped me get some runs. I seem to thrive off the extra spice. I thanked him for after the game. I don’t think I’ve had that before taking my guard, I took offence to the fact he wasn’t even playing.
“The great thing about Australia is that generally they like competitors – they like giving stick but if someone comes back, they respect that.”
Broad, who was due for a scan on a long-standing left heel problem on Tuesday but stated it was simply a check-up and he would be fit for a Test match starting next week, was untroubled by a summer of 20 wickets at 33 apiece – figures that might have flattered him more had 11 catches not gone down off his bowling across the two series.
He added: “I know with me, I go through phases. I think I have seven five-fers in a spell and if I get one in my first 12 balls, I tend to get three or four in that spell. Those catches just didn’t stick. One does and then you have a spell that can win a Test. I’m hoping I’ve saved up my wickets for Australia.”
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