EXC: Broad wants this year's Ashes to emulate the drama of 2005
EXCLUSIVE: ‘I want it to grip the nation and inspire kids the way 2005 did’: Stuart Broad wants this year’s Ashes to emulate the drama of 18 years ago – as England seamer admits he wishes he was 23 playing under ‘Bazball’ having becoming ‘addicted’ to their style
- Stuart Broad is relishing England’s Ashes series against Australia this summer
- In 2005 England regained the urn with a 2-1 series win that captivated the nation
There is no hint of Glenn McGrath bombast and 5-0 predictions when Stuart Broad is asked for his expectations on what he describes as the most eagerly anticipated Ashes since 2005.
‘I feel like I’ve experienced so much Ashes cricket I can sit here and say ‘actually I really want it to be a tight series’,’ insists a man who has experienced the full gamut of Ashes emotions since he introduced himself to Australia with a series winning spell in 2009.
‘I want the game to grow and I want people to love Test cricket and the way the England team are playing. It’s fun and if kids watch it they will want to play.
‘So, what would be better than to be coming here to the Oval at 2-2 with the Ashes on the line and all the intrigue that would come with it. How amazing would that be?’
Honestly, Stuart? You don’t want to thrash the old enemy? Give them a good hiding, as that confident young tyro Ollie Robinson has already said?
England’s Stuart Broad is relishing the prospect of taking on Australia at this summer’s Ashes
Broad will be a component of England’s bowling attack when they look to regain the iconic urn
The veteran seamer hopes to serve up a treat for fans and inspire a generation just like in 2005
The 36-year-old hopes fans will have a smile on their face when they reflect on a tight series
‘That’s not me saying I want to lose games,’ Broad continued. ‘I just want the whole series to grip the nation and inspire kids the way 2005 did.
‘I want our players to take positive options at all times and, if there’s a day we get bowled out for a hundred, it is what it is. As long as the next day we come back with the same intent and become even more aggressive and entertain even more.
‘The mindset of the group and what Baz (Brendon McCullum) has brought in is that the result’s irrelevant. It’s entertainment we’re here for. And when you add that mind-set, because there is so much talent in the group, the performances are really good.’
It is hard to argue having watched at close hand the most extraordinary turnaround. From the low of one win in 17 Tests and both Broad and his sidekick in the most prolific bowling partnership Test cricket has ever seen in Jimmy Anderson seemingly consigned to history by being left out of the defeat in the Caribbean that took England to rock bottom.
Then to the monumental high of 10 wins in 12 Tests under McCullum and Ben Stokes that have brought us to this point, 50 days before the first ball of this year’s Ashes is bowled at Edgbaston, where even a man who has seen it all is bursting with wide-eyed enthusiasm.
‘It’s been a breath of fresh air,’ Broad told Mail Sport. ‘I’ve been so lucky to have experienced so much in my career, but for enjoyment and fun and turning up not knowing what each day will bring yet having a freshness to it has been unbelievable.
‘I think the biggest compliment I can give is that part of me wishes I was 23. Part of me wishes I was learning my trade in this environment. I learnt under Andy Flower who made me a pretty tough cricketer and strong character. He made me deliver under pressure.
‘But imagine being Harry Brook now and coming in with that freedom and backing? There will be lots of Test cricketers from the 90s wishing they’d had this sort of backing.’
Michael Vaughan captained England to Ashes victory in 2005 as they stunned Australia
Fast forward to 2023 and England cricket is on another high under Brendon McCullum’s tenure
We are sitting in the Spring sunshine at the Oval where this Ashes, like so many, will reach its climax and where so many iconic Ashes moments have been made.
Broad, 36, is here with members of the Barmy Army to film an Ashes promo for Marmite and choose a new song for brilliant trumpeter Simon Finch to serenade him with when, they hope, his legs are pumping and he is charging in at the Aussies this summer.
‘I first had my own song in 2007 and it’s changed a little bit over the years but it’s basically the same song,’ says Broad who, the Barmy Army have always insisted, is big and bad and better than his dad. ‘So why not have a bit of a change and get a new song? We opened it up through social media and I got the sign off on the new one.’
So here we are as the Barmy Army go through various new options which Broad will either, in true Marmite style, either love or hate before they come up with the winner that will be revealed next month and sung in the Hollies Stand at Edgbaston on June 16. Think a certain Swedish Eurovision winning mega-band and you might have a clue.
‘I wouldn’t say I’m a natural actor but this has been really enjoyable,’ said Broad of a process that heard the winning song among others being belted out from the Oval stands to the bemusement of practising Surrey players on the outfield.
‘I’m a big fan of The Office so when I read the brief I thought of David Brent and I was okay because I had a bit of a character to follow. I tried to look a bit grumpy for the filming but my leg was tapping away. I just think it’s a good song for a bit of an uplift from the crowd. Since Ben and Baz took over part of my unofficial role is to get the crowd going.
‘It’s a tough thing for a young player to do because there is an added pressure to deliver your skill and if you are then whacked for four it’s like ‘ugh’. But I thrive on it, it gets me going. The lads will come to me at times and say ‘do you think it’s time to get the crowd going?’ and I’ll say ‘go on then.’
Broad is enjoying his cricket again and will have a new song sung in his honour this summer
It will not take much to get him going against Australia. It never has from the time he took five for 37 at this same Oval ground to win the 2009 Ashes. There have been so many moments like that for Broad. His 11 wickets in the match in Durham in 2013 to the best of the lot, the historic eight for 15 as Australia were demolished for 60 at Trent Bridge in 2015.
What is in store this time, with England vowing to throw everything at the old enemy? ‘It’s going to be a slight clash of styles and I’m fascinated to see how their bowling attack will defend against us,’ says Broad. ‘And it will be interesting to see how their batters stay calm because we play so aggressively now. Will they be able stick to their game plans and bubbles when we’re playing this style? That will be a test for them.
‘I think it would be great for us if Australia try to take us on at our own game. If we can get them playing in a slightly different style they could make mistakes and that would be brilliant for us. Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja are all guys who like to bat time and accumulate so if we can nibble away at them and just get them thinking ‘why are we not scoring quicker? Why are we not moving the game forward?’
‘We leave Jack Leach’s mid-on and mid-off in all the time and Stokesey basically says ‘you’re not having them back. Let them keep hitting you’. And he’s probably got more caught mid-offs now than lbws so it’s playing on minds. I’d love Smith to dance down the track and sky one to mid-off early doors. That would be classic.’
Broad could easily have been approaching this Ashes as a Sky commentator – his regular seat in the commentary box is believed to be there for him when he wants it – rather than joint spearhead. He really did think it was the end when England took what then and in hindsight seemed the bonkers decision to leave both him and Anderson out of that 2022 series against West Indies.
Now he has no plans for retirement. He is enjoying every moment as if it is his last. ‘There are no targets,’ he says. ‘I stopped setting them when I was left out of the Caribbean.
He has had countless memorable Ashes moments – including multiple scalps of David Warner
‘I saw a psychologist at that time and said to him ‘what more can I do? I got five-for at Sydney, I bowled well at Hobart and now I’m not there. I don’t understand it.’ And we did a lot of work on taking ownership of the decisions and literally take it week by week.
‘It got tiring for me looking too far ahead. I’d look at a series but then maybe I’d get left out and it got quite emotional and draining. So now I think ‘actually I don’t really care what’s happening in July. I care about next week and I’m going to attack it and enjoy it’.
‘At my age shortening the mind-set down has been really refreshing. Take the Ashes. I think it doubtful any seamer will play all five games. We’ve got six Tests in seven weeks including the Ireland match and we’ve got guys coming back from the IPL where they have pretty crazy schedules.
‘We will need all of us. Jimmy, Robbo and myself did pretty well in New Zealand and, with Stokesey struggling with his knee, we were knackered after two games. Lob another four on top of that and it’s not feasible for someone to play them all.
‘All I’m committed to, whether I play one or five Ashes Tests, is to be as fit as I can, as fresh as I can, smile as much as I can and then trust my bowling to look after itself.’
But he is only 24 wickets away from emulating Anderson and reaching the magical figure of 600 Test victims. That must be on his mind before he hangs his boots up?
He is only 24 wickets away from emulating Jimmy Anderson and reaching 600 Test victims
He shakes his head. ‘I don’t think about 600 wickets,’ insists Broad. ‘It doesn’t bother me at all. Only because I got to that stage last year when I was so disappointed to be left out I thought I’d never take another wicket. So everything is a great bonus for me now.
‘I used to see it as winning series all the time but Baz has said ‘winning one Test is an unbelievable feat so enjoy that moment’. And he’s so right. In England we can get so hung up on what’s coming but it’s all about what’s happening now.
‘What I’m trying to say is whether I play one or five you’re not going to get an angry Stuart Broad talking about being dropped. It will be ‘we’re all in this together. We’ve got five Tests against Australia. We will all be needed whether it will be talking one wicket or 20. So let’s get ready for that’.’
The positive entertain first then think about winning could have been tested when England lost their last Test against New Zealand, to coin a phrase, by the barest of margins.
Not so, says Broad. ‘The feeling of losing by one run in Wellington to draw the series would have hung around with me for a long time in previous years and I’d have been really annoyed and angry about it.
‘But when you step away from the result and look at what the game was it was brilliant to be a part of. I actually felt lucky to be watching and be part of it rather than be devastated at the result.’ Then another smile. ‘Mind you, I’m not sure we will enforce the follow on again,’ he says.
Speaking about the impact of McCullum (centre) Broad was nothing but positive of his coach
There are no thoughts either on revenge for the last English 4-0 horror show in Australia. ‘Nothing was harsher than the last Ashes series,’ says a man who has had his fair share of Ashes lows.
‘But in my mind I don’t class that as a real Ashes. The definition of Ashes cricket is elite sport with lots of passion and players at the top of their game. Nothing about that series was high level performance because of the Covid restrictions. The training facilities, the travel, not being able to socialise. I’ve written it off as a void series.’
This year could not be more different. ‘I think I’m even more excited than in my first Ashes,’ adds Broad. ‘In 2009 I was apprehensive and very nervous. It was all very tiring because I was into it so much but I’m chilled now. I love it. I’m addicted to it and I’m addicted to the way we’re playing.
‘When you take the result out of the equation it takes pressure away so really if our only goal is to entertain I can do that. It’s my natural way of playing now and I will happily do something that’s fun to watch or even silly to watch, like being the ‘Night Hawk.’
‘We can entertain as a team and if we win along the way superb. But the one thing we will do is enjoy it and put on a show.’
It is some prospect.
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