Stuart Broad reflected on a dream performance after delivering on the request from his captain, Alastair Cook, to make history in the fourth Test with the greatest Ashes figures ever returned by a fast bowler, claiming eight for 15 on day one at Trent Bridge that means England are primed to win the series.
Broad led the attack in the absence of the injured Jimmy Anderson as England rolled out the tourists for an astonishing 60 in 18.3 overs – the shortest ever first innings of a Test match – before Joe Root’s unbeaten 124 ushered Cook’s side to 274 for four at stumps and a lead of 214 runs.
It leaves England within touching distance of regaining the Ashes with a Test still to play. Broad was delighted to have passed 300 Test wickets with his third ball of the match – he is now level with the great Fred Trueman on 307 victims – amid a career-best haul in all cricket.
“It was one of those days you dream of. On my home ground, to bring up 300 wickets and to get a career best was amazing,” said Broad, who needed only 19 balls to equal the fastest ever five-wicket haul as Australia were bowled out in 94 minutes before lunch.
“My previous best was seven for 12 against Kimbolton School under-15s. I’ve always been one who gets in a rhythm and gets a few wickets in a short space of time. I never dreamed I could get eight in a spell like that. I felt I could hit a length that could find the edge.”
Asked about the match situation, Broad added: “That was as powerful a performance as I have seen. It’s not really sunk in. The scoreboard keeps popping up and it doesn’t look real.
“It’s a freak day. It’s what you work hard for and train for. It’s great to have a personal best against Australia – one of the best teams in the world and with all their history – and it was nice to put them under pressure.”
Root’s eighth Test hundred was also the first time in Ashes history that a batsman has brought up three figures on the first day batting second, coming from 128 balls and featuring 17 fours. The right-hander will resume in the morning alongside the nightwatchman Mark Wood, on two, after Jonny Bairstow picked out square leg eight minutes before the close having scored 74.
That muscular performance with the bat followed Australia’s seventh lowest total in Test cricket and, for the first time in an Ashes encounter, saw extras top-score with 14. Their struggling captain, Michael Clarke, made 10 before edging to Cook at first slip playing a reckless drive – one of seven wickets to be caught in the cordon.
The 34-year-old, who averages 17 in the series and faces questions back home over his continuation at the helm as he stares at a record 11th Test defeat as a player on these shores, described the overcast morning and seaming pitch, after losing the toss, as the toughest conditions he had faced.
“That’s as tough a day as you’ll have as a player and as a captain – nothing went right,” said Clarke. “As captain you need to be positive and it’s day one. There’s a lot of time left but we have to play out of our skins. The Aussie way is to not give up. We have to turn up, bowl England out and bat as big as we can. You just never know.
“There’s no doubt we didn’t bat well but they were good conditions to bowl in and as tough as I’ve faced in my career. In saying that, you have to have skill and class to put the ball in that area – and hold your catches – so take nothing away from Stuart.”
Asked about his own shot, Clarke replied: “I was thinking that, if he pitched it up, I would try and hit it as far as I can. The better the bowling, the more aggressive you have to be.”
While England are now odds-on favourites to reclaim the Ashes, Broad revealed that a talk from Cook after stumps has kept them from thinking too far into the future.
He added: “We’ve been conscious of not to talk about winning the Ashes; mentally that takes you to a dangerous place. Cookie said, ‘Let’s enjoy it. It’s one of the best ever days in the Ashes but we reset tomorrow.’
“Australia will fight back. We want to bat them out of the game.” (Courtesy The Guardian)