On the third day of the first Test match in the 2013 Ashes, Stuart Broad refused to walk after edging the ball into the hands of the first slip fielder. A normal occurrence, isn’t it? This event somehow snowballed into a huge controversy, the opposition team’s coach went to the extent of (jocularly, he said) asking people in a radio interview to ‘get stuck into him when he gets out to Australia’. For fair measure, he also added ‘I hope he whinges a lot’.

Hence, in the run up to the first Test of the Ashes, it was no surprise that the press hounded him. In fact, one of the newspapers went to the extent of banning mentions of his name. The reporter concerned, went on mentioning 27 year old on his twitter account 

When he took the new ball in the second over of the day, he was a greeted by a round of boos. Perhaps that played on his mind as he overstepped and bowled a short ball that Warner hooked to deep square leg. The entire first over was wayward and it seemed that he was getting close to the Harmison territory. The very next over, he turned around things. He unsettled Rogers with a short of good length delivery which led to his dismissal. It was the batsman’s fault as much as it was the bowler’s plan. Rogers failed to close the face of the bat as he looked to defend it and got an edge that was swallowed by Bell at gully. That dismissal bought his bunny, Watson, to crease. He tried to unsettle him with fuller deliveries. He did manage to draw an edge out of his bat that just eluded Carberry’s fingers

Watson wasn’t the batsman that he was in England- he had the bat in front of the pad and the head was on top of the ball always. He also took time to settle in and was looking set for a long haul at the crease. Broad came back into the attack and altered his plans to Watson. He bowled a short delivery outside the off stump that Watson jabbed at and the resultant edge flew to second slip.

Captain Clarke came to face the three remaining balls before lunch and immediately short-leg and leg slip appeared. Not a ball was bowled short in those three balls. Though Cook’s captaincy was reactive at the time, Broad forced the wickets with the field that he was given. Soon after resumption, Broad had Clarke fending the first short ball he bowled at him. The resultant edge ended up being a simple catch at short-leg.

Warner, with strong domestic form coming into the match, looked the only one comfortable while facing Broad. He also cover drove the first ball he faced from Anderson for a boundary. After the initial boundary onslaught, he seemed to be settling down for a huge score. A lapse of concentration, probably, accounted for his dismissal as he looked to drive a short ball without quite getting on top of the bounce. The ball flew to Pietersen at cover. The bowler? Broad.

Chappelli, at this point, made a pertinent observation on commentary. He said one of the biggest advantages of having Broad in the attack was he got you wickets in bunches. He had four of them before the 35th over. Probably bowling at the new batsmen helped him, but he did have wickets next to his name. Anderson, who bowled equally well, had nothing to show in the wickets column.

Broad, after those four wickets, managed to reduce the booing from the crowd. He was applauded well after he took the wickets of Clarke and Warner. The unlikely pair of Haddin and Johnson, who reined in his attacking instincts, built up a partnership of over hundred runs. Broad tried to unsettle Johnson by going around the wicket and bowling short. He remained unfazed by that line of attack. The ball that dismissed Johnson was probably the best of the day. He got one to straighten after pitching it full. It managed to beat the outside edge and peg back the middle stump.

On what can termed as a ‘Broad day’, the fun at Broad came from the expected angle- referrals. He appealed for a leg before and tried to convince the keeper and the captain to take a referral when it was apparent to the naked eye that it was pitching outside the leg stump. Replays showed that the impact was also outside the leg stump. Second time around, after a long parley, he managed to convince the captain to go for the referral. The time taken, though, was a lot and umpire Dharmasena refused to go for the referral. Replays showed that it would’ve been missing leg.

It is proved conclusively that the criticism and the booing actually egged Broad on to a better performance. If he continues in the same vein, Australia would find it difficult to wrest back the Ashes

Image Courtesy: The Telegraph and Reuters

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