When Stuart Broad was a little boy he would watch Test matches at The Gabba at home in England. After 10 minutes he was usually asleep but the magic had worked by then.
He mentioned this in the context of his outstanding performance on the first day of this series, which he finished with 5 for 65. It was the perfect answer to an Australian public and media who have spent the past month tormenting him as a cheat and a fraud among other cheery insults. The favourite among the crowd was, as one English reporter put it in asking Broad about it, the word that rhymed with banker.
Listen to Stephen Brenkley and Tom Collomosse discuss the first day of the first Test by clicking play on the image above
“I’m pleased my mum wasn’t in the stadium,” he said, barely able to suppress a smile after having the first word that really mattered after a month of the phoney war. “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 actually quite enjoyed it if I’m being really honest.”
Broad explained that the taunts and barbs aimed at him in the papers, on radio and television had little effect on him, though they had reached fresh and unseemly heights this week when he landed in Brisbane, a thoroughly pleasant town but not one invariably associated with the height of good taste.
“I do not give it the time of the day particularly,” Broad said. “It doesn’t change how you bowl the ball, what shots you play and we do not read the papers in the changing room anyway so I have not been aware of too much. It does not spur me on that is for sure. You do not need any more inspiration that playing for your country in Australia’s backyard in the first Test of the series.” And then he remembered those stolen late nights in front of the television when he was small.
Had England not been held up by a seventh wicket partnership between Mitchell Johnson and Brad Haddin they would have been in a position of complete control. As it is, Johnson thought
Australia had had a good day by its end.
“Broad bowled very well to us this morning, he used the short ball well and he obviously had his plans and stuck to them,” he said, which was almost to damn with faint praise. Johnson also suggested that his captain, Michael Clarke, had to keep working on playing the short ball since “today the plane came off.”
Australians had been told that Broad would probably thrive on their insults. Their annoyance with him is based almost entirely on his refusal to walk at Trent Bridge last year, although he clearly hit the ball. There is a barely an Australian Test player in existence who would have walked in similar circumstances but different standards have been applied. Broad has been unmoved in a different way since.
But as he said: “In our medical assessment – we do all these tests to determine what type of personality you are – our team psychologist pointed out there were three players in the team that would thrive probably on copping abuse, and it’s KP (Pietersen), myself and Matt Prior. “So they’ve picked good men to go at.”