Stuart Broad has projected himself as the man to lead England to a series win against Australia by “playing on the egos” of Australia batsmen. This will be Broad’s third Ashes series Down Under and while was England’s best bowler with 21 wickets in five matches, his team suffered a 5-0 whitewash.
Broad admitted that he was not up to the mark warm-up game in Perth, he thinks he is ready for his time and by bowling tight lengths with James Anderson, both can help England take the upper hand.
“We have to look at what we do best as a group,” Broad was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “We’re not going to blast the Australians out. We don’t have a Brett Lee-type bowler who can bowl 95mph reverse-swinging yorkers. We’re not going to blast Australia out like Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison did in 2005.
“We have to do what we do. We have to adjust our lengths a bit – if you bowl that slightly fuller length, you get belted, as we found out at the WACA the other day – set slightly more defensive fields and bang out a length more often than not like Glenn McGrath used to. You have to bowl a heavy length here to be threatening.
“I don’t know if playing on egos is the right way to say it, but if you can cut off a few of their boundaries then you have more chance of them making a mistake. I don’t want to sound as if this is a negative plan because, although it always looks great to have five slips and a gully, is that playing to our strengths on these pitches?
“We had a theory in 2015-16 in South Africa that when a new batsman came in, we’d swarm them for the first 15 balls or so. That way, if they make any mistake, they are out. And if they score 20 off 15 balls, you can always drag it back.
“I’d like to do a similar thing again. If any world-class batsman is going to make a mistake, it is going to be in the first 20 minutes. If they drive you through the covers three times, it doesn’t matter but then settle into a more defensive field.”
England coach Trevor Bayliss agrees to. Having worked with various Australian teams when he was coach of New South Wales and Sydney Sixers, Bayliss said that this methodology works.
“The Australian players like to play their shots,” Bayliss said. “That’s the way they’ve played for a number of years. Any team where the batters play shots, especially if there’s not much in the wicket, you have to try and keep things tight, frustrate them and try and make them go after the wrong ball. The Australian wickets are flatter than a lot of other wickets around the world. That could be part of our line of attack.”
In the past, Broad has bowled match-winnining spells during an Ashes series and he feels that he may have one or two more left in him.
“I think I do have a match-winning spell in me, yes,” he said. “Luck probably wasn’t with me during the summer. I know that if I get wickets in the first two or three overs of a spell, the likelihood of me picking up three or four is quite high. It was just one of those summers that catches seemed to go down so I never got into one of those spells. We know we have to take our catches to win here so there’s a lot of work going into that.
“I feel like I’m ready for one of those spells again. I’ve done a lot of work over the last eight weeks and straightened my run-up a huge amount to get my seam and fingers right behind the ball for the bounce. I don’t want to swing it, it will be against my strengths to come here and bowl a full length looking to swing the Kookaburra. I want to do what McGrath and Josh Hazlewood do: bash away and bring in both sides of the bat. I’ve done some good work. I feel like my time is coming.”
Broad can also expect a hostile reception from the Australian crowd like the last time he was Down Under. The pacer was subjected to some difficult time with Australia fans and press calling him names. But Broad, this time, is ready for it.
“I’m building myself up for it,” he said. “I think I might miss it a little bit if nobody said anything. You’re better off getting jeered than nothing. At least if you’re jeered, someone has heard of you or you’ve done something in an Ashes series.
“I read Sir Alex Ferguson’s book the last time I was here and he said that United fans used to give Patrick Vieira a lot of stick because they felt threatened by him. I took it that way because it was better for my mindset. Whether the Australians actually thought that, you’d have to ask them.
“It feels different already on this trip. The day after we arrived I walked down to breakfast and there was a picture on the back page of the paper with me having a selfie with an England fan. So actually seeing my face in a paper over here was a new experience. The last time I was ‘Stuart Fraud’. So they are spelling my name right, we’re already on to a winner.
“But yes, if you’re an England cricketer in Australia, you have to prepare yourself for a bit. Everyone has to brace themselves for it. It is a great part of the rivalry. The stick Mitchell Johnson got at Edgbaston was pretty lively. Maybe not as abusive, but quite lively.
“It’s as close as we get to being a Premier League footballer playing away from home. It’s like being a Manchester United player at Anfield. It’s exciting. It’s a great feeling. It’s not something you’re going to get when you retire. You have to remember running out on a sports field with thousands of people jeering and cheering, because those moments don’t last forever.”