Ashes 2015: Wide-eyed Stuart Broad struggling still to take in finest moment

'I can’t see me having a better day than that,' says England hero of his 8 for 15 in the Trent Bridge Test

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The Independent Online

Stuart Broad claims to be “not really sure” whether taking eight wickets for 15 runs to bowl Australia out for 60 and regain the Ashes has really sunk in. But you only need to let him speak on the subject for 10 seconds or so to be clear it hasn’t.

“You get that sort of spell once in a lifetime,” he says. “Sometimes it’s for school, or for a club. But to do it against Australia at my home ground, it’s not even your dream come true, because I’d never have dreamt I could do something like that.

“We were in the changing room by lunch, and then we were batting, and the scorecard kept coming up and it just didn’t look real. I was looking at it, thinking, ‘What has just happened there?’

“Being around Nottingham, going to restaurants, people have come up to me and said, ‘That was the best day’s cricket we’ve ever had’. These are people who’ve been watching cricket for 50, 60 years.”

Broad, 29, wants to play for England for a few years yet. The 2019 World Cup is a “deep ambition”, but should he make it there and even beyond, he does not expect to be in any doubt over what will have been the finest moment of his career.

“I can’t see having a better day than that,” he says. “Bowling Australia out for 60 on the first morning in the pivotal Test match, then being five down and Rooty getting a hundred, it was a dream day. I’m not beating 8 for 15. I think that’s the best figures at Trent Bridge in a Test match.”

He’s right. Only Muttiah Muralitharan, who took 8 for 70 in 2006, runs him close. More than that, Broad realises that devastating morning, and one moment in particular, is likely to transform how history remembers him. That picture of his eyes widening and his hands clasping against his face as he realises Ben Stokes has somehow held a catch that was already beyond him.

“I’m a bit embarrassed by it but it was genuine,” Broad explains. “I genuinely could not believe Stokesy caught it. It’s the best catch I’ve seen live, because it was behind him.

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Stuart Broad during his morning demolition

“As a bowler, once you see the ball get nicked you know in your stomach, ‘that’s four’ or ‘that’s going to be out’. I just thought ‘that’s four’. My vision was Lythy turning to chase to third man and Stokesy with it behind him, as if it had beaten him, and then he just plucked it. I just couldn’t believe he’d got it, and neither could he. When he stood up he looked like a little boy elated, like a three-year-old, looking at me, ‘Look, Broady, I caught it!’”

The reaction has not been small. “I saw Theo Walcott doing it, I’ve got a Twitter video from Lancashire Under-12s all doing it,” Broad says. “People have been walking past me in the street doing that face. It makes me a bit self-conscious, I’m like, ‘What have I got on my face?’ I think, because it was genuine and such a surprise, that’s why people have enjoyed it.

“One thing I’m quite happy with is that in the 2013 series it was remembered for me not walking, which I thought was a little bit unfair. If I’d have finished after 2013 I think it would have frustrated me that that was a big story around my career, rather than proper cricket. The biggest thing about the eight-for really is that it probably puts that Trent Bridge memory to bed a little bit, the not walking, and now I’ll remember it for winning the Ashes there in 2015.”

There is, however, still work to be done in the fifth Test this week. And Captain Cook is not taking it lightly.

“Sitting at Trent Bridge when we were singing songs and chatting Saturday night, it was very much a relief – ‘We’ve won it, what a feeling, soak it in’,” Broad says. “But Cooky called us all on Tuesday. I was at Luke Wright’s benefit golf day, and I had to walk a few holes because Cooky was on the phone. He was calling everyone to say, ‘Look, let’s make sure we turn up on Monday knowing we’re in a battle and that we want to start again. Because I’ve got a burning desire for this to be 4-1.’

“Certainly, the three or four of us that were involved in the 5-0 [defeat] in Australia, there’s a lot of determination to make this a good week. We’re training an extra day, we’re training at 3pm today, like at Trent Bridge, and there is a burning desire to keep this form going, because Australia are a ruthless team when they get on top, and we want to have that same tag. No one wants to be an enjoyable team to play against, and we want to try and hammer that home.”

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'Everything went our way'

On that extraordinary morning, Broad admits that “everything went our way”, but rather than luck it represents the payback from very hard work. At an extensive pre-Ashes training camp in Spain, a significant deficiency was addressed.

“Last year, we’d dropped the most catches in the world. So that was playing on the egos of the players – ‘you’re dropping the most in the world, you’ve got to improve’.

“I shared a villa with Cooky, Belly [Ian Bell] and Jimmy [Anderson], and me and Jimmy were lying on the sun loungers while the slippers were off doing their catching. They’d come back saying, ‘My hands are killing me, I’m in agony’. We replied, ‘It will do you good, lads, don’t worry’.”

It did. Only three of Australia’s 10 wickets in the second innings at Trent Bridge came from balls that were destined for the stumps. Seven were nicked, and duly caught.

One of them, inevitably was Michael Clarke, who will play his final Test at The Oval. Broad has taken his wicket 11 times, “Not that I knew that,” he says, having got the number right in a flash.

“He has been a credit to Australian cricket and I wish him all the best,” he says, before adding: “Obviously, I don’t wish him any runs at The Oval because I don’t want to watch him score a hundred.”

Stuart Broad is an Investec cricket ambassador. For more on Investec private banking, visit investec.co.uk/pb

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