By Andrew Miller | 31-Jul-2023 • 5 hrs ago
There aren’t many fairytale finishes in elite-level sport, but Stuart Broad came closer than most players ever could. In claiming Australia’s final two wickets at the Kia Oval, Broad put his personal seal on a thrilling fifth Test, closing out a series-squaring 49-run victory, and bowing out on a high with a final tally of 604 wickets at 27.68 in his remarkable 167-Test career.
“It was absolutely wonderful,” Broad told Sky Sports at the close. “The crowd were unbelievable. It was so loud and we just jumped on the back of that. To contribute to the team with two wickets is very special. When you make that decision you wonder what your last ball will be, so to take a wicket to win an Ashes Test match is pretty cool.”
Broad’s decision to retire was announced at the close of play on day three, at which point England led by a hefty 377 runs and appeared nailed on to seal victory in the remaining two days. As things turned out, however, Usman Khawaja and David Warner bit a large chunk out of that with an unbeaten century stand on a truncated fourth day, and it wasn’t until Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali came together in a crucial fifth-wicket alliance on the final afternoon that England’s path to victory was reopened.
“I thought Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali set the tone absolutely unbelievably,” Broad added. “Woakesy picked up a couple of wickets, particularly Steve Smith, who has just been a wonderful player to play against all these years. Once we got a couple we really started to believe.”
- Moeen Ali bowled 23 overs for his three wickets, despite being hampered with a groin strain sustained while batting on the first day.
- Moeen confirmed that this Test would be his last.
- England’s victory was not without controversy, following a ball-change late on day four.
- Stuart Broad’s strategic decisions and excellent bowling contributed to the victory.
Broad admitted that England persevered with the same ball that had claimed all ten wickets, learning from their mistake in the series opener at Edgbaston.
“If I could turn back the clock for that final hour I’d have maybe stayed with the old ball, stayed heavy and short and see if they’d made a mistake. I had blood in my socks, sweat, and I knew the team had put their heart and soul into it. When you lose to a great team like that, but you know you’ve done everything like that, you’ve got to hold your head high.”
Longevity and Success
Broad attributed his remarkable longevity and success to his relentless curiosity and desire to keep learning new tricks.
“In Test cricket it is about knowing what your weaknesses are but finding your exact strengths and sticking to them so strongly and not getting knocked away. Test cricket and the whole environment, there’s a lot of things trying to knock you off the straight road, but if you can stay on it you’ll have a lot of success coming your way. I’ve found that a lot more in the last 10 years and I’ve focused solely on what my super strengths are and I’ve stuck to them in this series.”
To complete a special personal occasion, Broad even hit his final ball for six – a feat last achieved by West Indies’ Wayne Daniel in 1984.
“The six was the only ball I’ve middled all year! I was quite happy that went for six.”
On his remarkable longevity, maintaining his standards over a 17-year England career, and even reaching a new peak of performance in his final three post-Covid years, Broad put that down to his relentless curiosity and desire to keep learning new tricks – not least his angle into left-handers from round the wicket, which contributed significantly to his tally of 17 dismissals against Warner.
To contribute to the team with two wickets is very special. When you make that decision you wonder what your last ball will be so to take a wicket to win an Ashes Test match is pretty cool.
About the Author
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket