Stuart Broad has revealed that England’s senior players had been urged to rediscover their love for cricket after being dragged down by a series of poor results.
For the first Test this summer, England’s key men have performed well. Alastair Cook and Ian Bell scored runs in the first innings, and Broad and Jimmy Anderson followed them with the ball, sharing six wickets in India’s first innings.
The result is that England lead India by 246 runs, with the tourists resuming 323 for 8 today as they try to preserve their 1-0 lead in the Investec Series. Broad finished the day with 3 for 65 and is confident England’s new attitude will pay dividends.
“There has been a lot of talk about new players coming in and the seniors needing to take responsibility, and maybe we put too much pressure on ourselves,” said Broad. “Before this Test, [coach] Peter Moores came to a few of us and told us to express ourselves.
Video: Stuart Broad on his partnership with James Anderson
“He urged us not to worry about having to take responsibility and to play as if it were our first Test. Since we beat Australia at Durham last August it’s been a pretty tough run, and we’ve had to play defensive cricket because we’ve been under the pump a lot.
“I was putting too much pressure on myself to take responsibility and actually I wanted to get back to hitting the top of off stump and enjoying my cricket. Everyone had a laugh and we had smiles on our faces when we were bowling, and that showed in our cricket.
“We had a tough time of it in Australia [where England were whitewashed 5-0 last winter] and maybe my own mindset had become quite defensive. I had to bowl defensively in Australia and maybe I brought that into the start of the summer.
“I’m at my best when I’m attacking and playing with flair, so this has been about leaving the past behind and expressing myself. I’m an attacking player who had fallen into defensive habits.
“I was thinking about a square-leg because he would save runs, but actually the mentality should have been: ‘Let’s get some wickets’.”
Broad and Anderson also passed a combined tally of 500 wickets in Tests on day three. Only the Pakistani pair Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and West Indians Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh have achieved the feat.
Broad added: “They were four of my heroes growing up, so to go into that company is a huge honour.”
England hope Ian Bell will be able to bat as normal despite requiring an X-ray after he was struck on the thumb when fielding at second slip. Bell was expected to take a fitness test this morning.
Bell is likely to be asked to bat today as Broad dropped a strong hint that England would not enforce the follow-on if they bowl out India for fewer than 370. Were the decision to fall to Broad, struggling with a knee condition and supporting a heavy workload, the follow-on would be “100 per cent off limits”.
There is also a growing belief that Ravi Jadeja will be allowed to appeal against the 50 per cent fine he was given for his part in the alleged incident involving Anderson during the first Test at Trent Bridge earlier this month.
Even though there is usually no provision to appeal against a level one charge, some sources believe Jadeja may contest the hearing at the Ageas Bowl on Friday morning, the day after the Test is scheduled to finish.
The match referee, David Boon, is likely to be involved in the process. Boon has already played a role in proceedings here, warning England’s Moeen Ali that he will be punished if he ever wears again the “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” bands that adorned his wrist during the second day.
The England and Wales Cricket Board was happy for Moeen to wear the bands but the ICC “do not permit the display of messages that relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes during an international match”.
Shot, ball and moment of the day
Shot of the day
Ajinkya Rahane looked well ordered from the start. His front foot pull for four from outside off stump off Chris Woakes in the second session was proof of his form and confidence, which took him to India’s highest score of the innings, 54.
Murali Vijay was perplexed. He managed an inside edge to a Stuart Broad ball slanting in and was then beaten by one going away. Not sure where the next was going, he tried to leave it, but it took the inside edge as it seamed in and hit the base of off stump.
Everything was placed in perspective by the ceremony before play. Players, officials and spectators stood to commemorate the 289 first-class cricketers (not to mention thousands more club players) who perished in the First World War.