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Stuart Broad senses England can inspire a nation in the Ashes akin to the class of 2005 but he is desperate to avoid a repeat of the grandstand Edgbaston finale from 18 years ago.
A mouthwatering final day awaits in this LV= Insurance series curtain-raiser as England require seven more wickets to draw first blood against Australia, who closed on 107 for three in pursuit of 281.
The target is one run fewer than what Australia were set in one of the greatest Tests of all-time at this venue, when Ricky Ponting’s tourists fell two runs short in a nerve-shredding denouement.
While Broad believes England can rouse the country across this summer’s five much-anticipated Tests, he is keeping everything crossed they can draw first blood long before any crescendo is reached.
“You can tell this group is massively inspired and motivated by that series,” Broad said. “It’s great the series are being related because 2005 inspired our group to want to play and win Ashes series.
“Honestly as a group we’ve got so much energy around, we can feel the energy of the country. Each player has had a lot more messages and a lot more engagement from friends of the Ashes coming around.
“To have this series being talked about in the same sort of sentences as ’05 gives us a huge boost. If the series can be half as good as that one I think we’ll be inspiring the nation.
“But I’m not sure we want (this Test) going to two runs (on Tuesday). Hopefully, it doesn’t get as close as that and we get a few wickets early because that won’t do much for the heart, will it?”
Broad was 19 and in his first season with Leicestershire when England levelled the Ashes in Birmingham in 2005 and the fast bowler admitted he finds watching from the sidelines more anxious than playing.
“I remember watching it almost like hiding behind the sofa,” he added. “I find it really difficult to watch and now I’ve played a lot of tight games myself, it’s way harder watching than playing.
“It’s weird. You feel the nerves and the anxiety way more when you can’t control anything about it. When you’re involved in the game you’re just focused on your style and your process.”
After England were all out for 273, David Warner and Usman Khawaja, a first-innings centurion, helped Australia off to an ideal start with a half-century opening partnership on a lifeless surface.
While Warner escaped the clutches of his nemesis Broad this time, he was out for 36 after nicking off to Ollie Robinson. But there was no keeping Broad out of the game as he kissed the outside edges of Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith, ranked respectively at one and two in the Test batting rankings.
“It’s all set up to be a fantastic day,” Broad said. “We’re obviously delighted to have Warner, Marnus and Smith back in the pavilion because they’re world class players.
“But we know the Aussies have got a lot of danger to come so we’ve got to be right on the money.
“I don’t think any batter is going to come in and say it’s a fantastic pitch to bat on. It’s turgid and hard to time the ball on. And no bowler’s going to say it’s not carrying or moving particularly.
“It’s a hard working pitch, you’ve got to create pressure and hit the pitch as hard as you can.”
There is rain forecast for Tuesday which could add another layer of drama to proceedings while Moeen Ali seemed inhibited by the blister on his spinning finger on Monday – although he bowled seven overs.
“I think Mo’s fine,” Broad added. “He’s got a bit of a gouge out of his finger but he’s doing as much as he can to heal that and deal with the pain.
“Hopefully, as a seamers’ group we can help him out a bit by taking some early poles in the first hour.”
Australia, meanwhile, will be attempting to banish the ghosts of 2005 at a sold-out Edgbaston, with off-spinner Nathan Lyon quipping there are constant reminders of what occurred.
“I’ve obviously seen the game,” he said. “It’s always on Sky Sports here in England. They only seem to have a couple on replay!
“This is the type of cricket we want to play. We want to play in tight series, it’s exciting to be a part of.”
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