JOFRA ARCHER: Australian abuse will spur our boys on

JOFRA ARCHER: Australian abuse will spur our boys on and Stuart Broad is going to love it

  • The 72nd Ashes series starts in Brisbane, Australia on Wednesday  
  • Australian fans will be getting on England players from the start of the series
  • Stuart Broad tends to get lots of abuse over there — but that only spurs him on

I would give so much to be a part of this Ashes — it would be a totally different experience from any other Test series I’ve played in.

Australia offers different conditions. You play with an unfamiliar ball and at a contrast of venues in front of vocal crowds.

Over here when you go to the ground on the morning of a match, everyone is talking to you, wishing you well, but in Australia that encouragement is replaced by hostility and people are getting into you from the moment you step off the team bus.

Stuart Broad and his team-mates will be given a lot of abuse by the Australian fans 

It’s the kind of setting that a fierce competitor like Stuart Broad has come to thrive in and that’s what I expect him to do in this upcoming series. He tends to get lots of abuse over there — but that only spurs him on.

Broad is a typical England player, one of the guys who really feeds off the England-Australia rivalry and always wants to beat the old enemy because it’s in his blood.

The Ashes is slightly different for me. Yes, I loved the atmosphere, but it is the toughness of the cricket that I have always fed off. It’s the game and the intensity of it that has my full attention, not the history around it.

Growing up in Barbados, I’ve never got up in the morning and thought: ‘It’s the Ashes, I can’t wait to go get stuck into those Aussies.’ It’s never been like that. Not that I’m anything less than desperate to beat them.

Broad tends to get lots of abuse over there — but that only spurs the fast bowler on

Naturally, it is frustrating for me to be ruled out through injury but there is no doubt in my mind that we have world-class players in this England dressing room and man for man I think we have a better team than Australia. Now is the time for us to prove it.

Cast your minds back to the 2019 Ashes and consider how different things could be now as we look ahead to the first Test in Brisbane tonight.

The Lord’s Test was defining. But for so much of it being washed out, we would have won and that would have altered the course of that series. Yes, we came back from 1-0 down and drew 2-2 in the end but if that second game had ended in a positive result, who knows how things would’ve gone?

And if we were heading into this series holding the Ashes, it would alter the mentality. As it is, I don’t expect England to feel their way into things at the Gabba. There is nothing to lose. We don’t have the urn and so if we don’t come back with it, we’ve lost nothing.

With that in mind, I would throw caution to the wind from the start and show that we are in Australia because we mean business, that this team will take you on.

I truly feel this series could be the start of something special for England in Test cricket. Joe Root has been as good a batter as anyone on the international circuit in recent times and the other players will feed off him.

Similarly, everyone in the dressing room is going to be happy that Ben Stokes is back from injury, even if he doesn’t hit a ball or take a wicket all series. He has a knack of lifting those around him.

People ask what it is about him that has such an effect, and the answer is simple — it’s his personality and his fight. Stokes is someone who can stand up to the Australians.

The younger guys look up to him and want to be like him. The older guys appreciate that he is always in our corner. There will be a point in the series when things get verbal and I know he will get involved. It wouldn’t matter if he is at fine leg or deep extra cover, he will be that person who will always stand alongside you. He doesn’t leave team-mates to fight battles by themselves.

One passage of Ashes play I get asked about was on my debut at Lord’s when I got into a contest with Steve Smith.

There wasn’t much going on at the time, it was one of those periods that had gone a bit dead, and I bowled some short stuff at him. What I would say though is that although that became our plan, it did so because other stuff hadn’t worked and had it proved equally unsuccessful, we would have turned to something else.

Luckily, however, the conditions, the pitch, the ball and the weather — the sun was out — was perfect and I managed to unsettle him.

Smith remains the key Australian wicket because others look to him for stability. He is a great wicket to claim, period. Of course, it’s nice to get him early but whenever you dismiss him, it feels like you’ve dealt a significant blow to the opposition.

Plenty have ideas on how to get Smith out, but I’ve always felt you have a chance against him, no matter how good he is. Just by bowling normally, you can nick him off, bowl him, have him lbw — I don’t think he necessarily merits different plans.

The one thing I would say is that if you stop him scoring that increases the chances of getting him out. It’s no good getting funky with different theories before trying out the tested ways to take wickets with the new ball. Be conventional to start with — aim to hit the top of off-stump and nip the ball around.

There have been suggestions that the rain around Brisbane this week will help our attack because they are used to bowling on seaming pitches, but I am not so sure this will be the case as the Kookaburra ball doesn’t do that much laterally.

The only time I’ve used it in first class cricket was in New Zealand a couple of years ago and I found that it goes through distinct periods where it loses its venom.

Root was always drumming into us the importance of taking wickets when it was hard because when — not if — it goes soft it becomes so much easier for batting. It will be the same in this series and breakthroughs with the new ball will be key. I wish I was there to help with that. 

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