Stuart Broad ignored the jeers,chants and catcalls of a hostile Gabba crowd to take five wickets and leave Australia clinging on at 273 for eight on the first day of the first Ashes test on Thursday.
Cast as a villain in Australia after his failure to walk at Trent Bridge earlier this year,Broad skittled Australia’s top order with his first four wickets and returned with the second new ball to end a Brad Haddin-inspired rearguard.
“After losing the toss on what looked like a fantastic batting wicket and to get eight wickets in that day,the guys are tired in there but they are absolutely delighted,” Broad told reporters.
“We probably weren’t at our best but if you’d given us 260 for eight at the start of the day we’d have snapped your hand off.”
Australia came into the match boasting of a renewed confidence but a batting collapse from 71 for the loss of a single wicket to 132-6 looked like very much like their performances in the 3-0 defeat in England earlier this year.
Haddin bucked that trend,however,sharing a 114-run seventh wicket stand with Mitchell Johnson (64) and was unbeaten on 78 when stumps were drawn. He will resume on day two with Ryan Harris,who had scored four.
“We fought back very hard,” Johnson said. “That was quite important,had to really dig in.
“The position we’re in is definitely par for today. We want to get 300-plus and we think that definitely is a good score to have.”
Australia won the toss and decided to bat on a bright,sunny morning at the Gabba and the booing of Broad,branded a “smug Pommy cheat” on the front page of the local Courier-Mail newspaper,contributed to a festive atmosphere.
“Good fun,” grinned Broad,who brought the paper into the news conference with him.
“It’s all good banter,at the end of the day fans come,they like to have a beer with their mates and sing along but they want to see good cricket and I think they’ve seen really good cricket.”
Opener Chris Rogers was the first victim of the bounce Broad managed to generate from the Gabba track but it was the dismissals of Shane Watson,Michael Clarke and David Warner around lunch that shifted the momentum firmly in England’s favour.
Watson,whose preparations for the series were disrupted by a hamstring injury,looked like reaching lunch with his wicket intact until Broad intervened.
The all-rounder pushed at a ball he could have left and edged it to Graeme Swann at second slip,swatting his bat in disgust at the manner and timing of his dismissal for 22.
Australia captain Clarke faced seven balls after lunch before he was making his way back to the pavilion with one run to his name after he popped a catch to Ian Bell at short leg off the first short ball Broad fired at him.
“We know what a world class player he is,and to get him cheaply in the first innings of the first test means a lot to the team,” said Broad,who has dismissed Clarke six times in his last eight innings.
“When it hit him and went to Belly,you saw the reaction of the team and how much it meant to the guys.”
Opener Warner had looked dangerous in building a score of 49 with some choice shots but he threw it all away when he swatted a Broad delivery straight to Kevin Pietersen in the covers.
James Anderson then pitched in to remove debutant George Bailey for three before Chris Tremlett,the third England quick,curtailed a promising innings from Steve Smith for 31.
Haddin,whose half century was his 13th in tests,was forced to combine with Johnson,recalled for his pace bowling rather than his batting prowess,to stem the flow of wickets.
Johnson hit six fours and two huge sixes for his eighth test 50 before Broad shattered his wickets to complete his 11th test five-wicket haul.
Despite something of a disappointing day,Australia can look to the corresponding Gabba test in the 2010-11 series for some comfort.
England were bowled out for 260 on the opening day three years ago but battled back for a draw,carrying the momentum from that recovery to clinch the series 3-1.
“I think we’re in a great position,” Johnson added. “We have two wickets in hand and we can put some more runs on the board.
“The wicket has definitely quickened up and there’s some swing out there.”