Wed, 16 Oct 2019

Stuart Broad has described himself as a "reinvented cricketer with more to offer" after enjoying his most-successful Ashes with the ball. In the absence of the injured James Anderson, Broad led the line superbly for England, with his dominance over David Warner providing a snapshot of his summer renaissance.

In all, Broad picked up 23 wickets during the five Tests, two shy of equalling his best series haul (against India in 2011). His proficiency at bowling round-the-wicket to left-handers was a notable feature - helping him to remove Warner seven times in 10 innings - and he also kept his pace high while pursuing a fuller, more attacking length.

Having only played in half of England's winter Tests, in Sri Lanka and West Indies, there had been a sense that Broad was no longer an automatic pick - despite sitting second only to Anderson on England's wicket-taking list. However, bowling off a shortened run-up, worked on in consultation with Richard Hadlee, and with a focus on making batsmen play more, he has restated his worth.

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"I've been very pleased with how it has gone this summer," he said. "I've gone from being talked about as a diminishing cricketer being eased out to a reinvented cricketer with more to offer. At 33 years old that is a good place to be.

"All the hard work has been worth it. Fate allowed me to have the time during the winter to work on things. In Sri Lanka I didn't play too much and I was able to work on a new run up and stuff like my attacking intent, which has paid dividends. I've not been as attacking in my areas, and making batsmen play as much as I have for many years."

His method to Warner was the culmination of his early season with Nottinghamshire, where the coach, Peter Moores, and team analyst, Kunal Manek, passed on data about the "leave percentage" of batsmen facing Broad. Resolving that this was too high, he focused on attacking the stumps more - combined with his ability to move the ball away from left-handers, it left Warner caught betwixt and between, falling lbw or bowled four times, and caught behind or in the slips three.

"I had an added responsibility to try and get their big players out and that's why I did a lot of planning on David Warner and how I might get him out before the series started," he said. "I had to go fuller at him, I had to try and hit his stumps and I had to try and forget about his outside edge.

"The edges would come but only if I bowled in the right areas consistently rather than searching for the edge of his bat. I never dreamt that I would have the success against him that I've had.

"Of course that is just in this series. If we put our numbers together over the course of our careers and how much we have played against each other I think they would be quite even. He has outdone me in many a series, but this time it went my way and I think it perhaps shows that sometimes planning does work."

Before the series, Broad had taken Warner's wicket five times in 18 Tests; that figure now stands at 12, making the Australia opener the man he has dismissed most often.

The numbers for Australia were stark. Warner finished the series with an average of 9.50, with the opening partnership averaging even less at 8.50. Marcus Harris was dismissed three times in six innings by Broad, while Cameron Bancroft also fell to him once before being dropped.

"We talk about setting the tone with the new ball and I felt that this has been my best summer for a long time in terms of doing that with the new ball," Broad said. "I felt a responsibility to lead that first 10 overs and I've had great energy running in. I felt like the mindset of trying to hit the stumps has really paid off.

"I don't think we could have dreamt of keeping Australia's opening pairs quite so quiet throughout the series so we can class that as a good win for us. We do a lot of planning and preparation to go into these series and our new ball bowling has been a success."

Although Broad described himself as "distraught" at England's failure to win a home Ashes series for the first time since 2001, he suggested that a draw was a fair result and a fitting way to end the summer. He praised Steven Smith for playing "out of his skin" in his first series since returning from a ball-tampering ban - likening his response to that of Ben Stokes, England's man of the summer, who has used adversity to lift his own game to new levels.

"It was really important we got a positive result in this game to make sure that Australia didn't go home with a win," he said. "A World Cup win and a drawn series in the Ashes is a memorable summer. I won't say it is a totally successful summer because we would have really liked to win the series, but if we sit down in a week's time without the emotion, it is probably the right result.

"I think both teams are so similar in the way they go about their business. They had one batsman who has been a 15 out of 10 and we've not had that which has been a huge difference.

"Of course I'm distraught not to be lifting the urn at the Oval and I can't remember having a feeling like this before because usually at The Oval we are lifting a trophy. It is certainly the first Ashes series where I've not been spraying champagne at the end which is a weird feeling.

"It is a fair result. Steve Smith has played out of his skin. It has taken 24 days to finally get him to tuck one round the corner to leg slip. [Chris] Woakes got him with a straight one that was hitting the middle of middle and that was just about the first on he'd missed. Why had he not missed one before? He's been so good and everything has worked for him.

"Stokesy has had a summer where all his hardship has paid him back and Steve Smith the same, all his hardship has paid him back."

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