Stuart Broad... more than a thorn in Australia's side
There is a picture hung on the wall next to the media center lift in the SWALEC stadium in Cardiff. It is of Stuart Broad being mobbed by his team mates after he dismissed Sri Lanka's Suranga Lakmal to seal an improbable victory for England when it looked for all the money that the Test match would meander to a tame draw
There is a picture hung on the wall next to the media center lift in the SWALEC stadium in Cardiff. It is of Stuart Broad being mobbed by his team mates after he dismissed Sri Lanka's Suranga Lakmal to seal an improbable victory for England when it looked for all the money that the Test match would meander to a tame draw. That was in the summer of 2011.
After this first Test of Ashes 2015, there could be another picture frame of Broad celebrating with his teammates hung up. With Australia facing a Himalayan task of needing 412 runs in the fourth innings with two full days of play available to an unlikely victory, Broad in a spell of supremely skillful seam bowling broke the back of the Australian batting to launch England towards a 1-0 lead in the series.
With the new ball in hand, it was understood that Jimmy-Jimmy-Jimmy-Jimmy Anderson would be the one to cause troubles for the Aussie openers but it was Broad that, in a reminiscence of his breathtaking performance from the final day of the 4th Test Durham to seal the Ashes in 2013, put Chris Rogers and David Warner under intense examination. Warner faced most of the deliveries from Broad in his opening spell and was repeatedly beaten on the outside edge by the ball moving off the seam, and in the air. It looked like a visually challenged person would have had better chance at laying bat to the ball than Warner facing Broad.
Warner was left groping, playing by guesswork and consequently, his feet were cemented to the crease as Broad didn't allow him even a sniff of figuring out what was happening. In his third over, Broad had a strong appeal for LBW against Warner but the left hander was saved by a thin inside edge but soon, it was back to the same routine of Warner beaten by Broad.
Despite this, the Aussie openers hung on through sheer luck and a dropped catch (by Joe Root off Rogers) as the first hour of play was winding down. Then, Broad produced a beauty that bounced a bit more than usual, beating the attempted steer by Rogers, and settled in the hands of second slip. At the end of his spell, Broad's figures read 6-3-10-1 and one was left with the feeling that the last umber could have been higher, easily.
As Moeen Ali removed Warner at the stroke of lunch, Broad was brought back in to the attack on the other side of the break, and immediately went to work on the two best batsmen in this Australian line up – Skipper Michael Clarke and his deputy Steve Smith. Smith, the top ranked Test batsman in the world has been making runs everywhere and in every format for fun. His glorious form has extended for more than a year now, as he scored centuries in different continents and in different conditions. No one had figured a wau through his unorthodox technique that is backed by immaculate hand-eye coordination. Michael Atherton observed on commentary that normally when the line is around the 6th or 7th stump, the batsmen would typically play a cut shot to it, whereas with Smith, with his unorthodoxy, it is a defensive shot with a straight bat that he offers to that wide a delivery.
The plan of the English bowlers for Smith in the first innings was to target well outside off stump but here, Broad began with accurate deliveries aim at his pads. After three deliveries attempting to trap Smith LBW, Broad resorted to the one outside off-stump and induced a tame prod from the batsman.
A few tight overs followed Smith's dismissal and the pressure told on the Aussie captain as he sliced a wide delivery from Broad to the waiting hands of Ben Stokes at backward point. In a spell of 16 deliveries, Broad had removed the two batsmen that were essential for any Australian chances at victory in Cardiff. Rest of the English bowlers chipped in as Australia slid towards defeat but Broad laid the groundwork for it on Day 4. Perhaps, the Glamorgan County Cricket Club will acknowledge it by getting to work on a new wall hanging.