Stuart Broad saw the newspaper jibes, heard the boos — and carried on regardless, to “stamp England’s authority” on Day One of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba here yesterday.
He even brought a copy of the Courier-Mail into his close-of-play press conference, having already answered the Brisbane-based tabloid’s apparent attempts to unsettle him by taking five for 65.
The partisan press might have hoped for a better outcome than their team’s stumps total of 273 for eight after Michael Clarke had chosen to bat first in benign conditions.
But that was reckoning without Broad’s skill and determination, with or without the publicity-stunt threat to leave his name out of match reports or the constant booing of the majority in a 30,000-plus crowd.
It is more than four months since Broad divided cricket when he declined to walk in July’s Ashes opener at Trent Bridge, after edging a ball to slip via the wicketkeeper’s gloves.
That is still the gripe down under, where he was warned long in advance to expect a hostile reception, after his controversial — and at times brilliant — part in England’s 3-0 win last summer.
He duly had to contend with a stream of uncomplimentary, often obscene chants — but despite beginning with a big no-ball, pulled for four by David Warner, he quickly had the measure of his opponents.
Australia stumbled to a hapless 132 for six — and even after Brad Haddin (78 not out) and Mitchell Johnson (64) then rescued the hosts, it was Broad who returned with the second new ball to break the century stand. “I’m pleased my mum wasn’t in the stadium,” he said, referring to some of the fruitier language aimed at him.
“But to be honest, I was singing along at one stage — it gets in your head, and you find yourself whistling it at the end of your mark. I’d braced myself to expect it, and actually it was good fun. I quite enjoyed it. It was something a bit different, but I think I coped with it okay.”
In his own estimation, it simply had no effect either way. As for the Courier Mail, he said: “I just saw this outside (the press-conference room), and it made me smile.”