Nobody could accuse England of being excessive in their celebrations after winning the Ashes. Their fixture schedule could have been designed by a professional party pooper.
"I haven't had time to think about it," said Stuart Broad, one of the heroes, yesterday. "We were sitting in the dressing room after the Ireland game and saying hang on it's only three days ago since we won the Ashes and we've just played another one-day international.
"It's tricky turning round so quickly. There was one evening to enjoy it and then back on the plane getting ready to practise your slower balls. It's what the hierarchy planned for us."
Broad at least was not expected to play in Belfast on Thursday, merely to attend as part of the squad. But it meant that he still had to play the role of professional cricketer rather than Ashes celebrant. England, as it happened, scraped home by the skin of their teeth in their first match as Ashes holders, or rather the skin of Eoin Morgan's palm as he saved a certain six in the final over that would have led to Irish victory.
By yesterday afternoon, but only after a bomb scare at Belfast Airport, Broad was back in Manchester ready for the first of two Twenty20 international against Australia at Old Trafford tomorrow. It is possible the hierarchy, as Broad quaintly calls them, intended to take the team on a journey from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Broad finished the Ashes series as England's leading wicket-taker after his six for 91 in a lost cause at Headingley and his peerless five for 37 to establish a winning position at The Oval. There was a time during the series when smart judges were calling for him to be dropped, yet by the end of it he was being billed, often by the same people, as the world's next great all-rounder.
"There were times when it was tough and times when there were calls for me to be out of the side," he said. "The faith shown in me by Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower meant a lot to me because they could easily have listened to all the jive and left me out.
"That spell at The Oval was my best spell as a Test cricketer and the most important spell I have bowled in my life. At the start of that day Ottis Gibson, the bowling coach, had told us that it's not what the ball does, it's where it does it from. That was a very good statement on a pitch that was a bit up and down."
Broad has been lauded by Flower for his ability to learn quickly. Still only 23, he has now played 22 Test matches, 49 ODIs and 17 T20s. The Ashes were the highlight. He and his father, Chris, are the only father and son to have appeared for England in triumphant Ashes series.
"The series didn't let me down in any way in being what I had prepared for in an Ashes series," Broad said. "It was tough, it was exciting, it ebbed and flowed, it had very tense moments that changed the series. The aim is to reset the goals and keep very focused on what we want to do. The Ashes is a stepping stone to being the best side in the world."
Having stood by him and watched as he took 18 wickets and scored 234 runs in an Ashes series, Flower himself suggested Broad can become one of the world's top all-rounders. Broad remains wary: "My aim is to be a bowler who can score useful runs at number eight and number seven. I'd love to become an all-rounder but I'm certainly not there yet."
What he is not wary about is the fashion in which he plays his cricket. If the opposition want a ruck, Broad will give them one, if the umpires, his captain or his team-mates displease him he will let them know.
"I still grumble on the odd occasion when I disagree with the umpire's decision or something," he said. "It's something I will grow out of at some stage. If someone looks at me in the eye and swears at me I will look them back in the eye but it's not something I particularly start off or look to do. That has always been the way I have played.
"I think you have got to have a presence out on the cricket pitch and I'm glad I have got that presence, probably passed on through my dad. But it's important that I learn to control it and I think I controlled it a lot better through the series." He controlled a lot more besides.
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Hussey inspires Australia rout
David Hussey struck his maiden one-day international century as Australia secured a comfortable 189-run win against Scotland in Edinburgh today.
An Australia side much-changed from the team that conceded the Ashes to England five days ago posted 345 all out. Hussey staked his claim for selection in the upcoming limited overs series against England with 111. He hit five sixes off off-spinner Majid Haq during his 83-ball innings.
Gavin Hamilton (38) and Fraser Watts (24) put on a quick 51 for the first wicket in reply but a string of bizarre dismissals saw them all out for 156 in the 40th over.Reuse content