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‘An irrelevant conversation’ – Broad wants focus shifted onto batsmen ahead of Ashes

Broad Ashes
by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

Stuart Broad, in his column for Daily Mail, has hit back questions over the the seam-bowling pair of himself and James Anderson with respect to the 2021/22 Ashes, saying it’s “naive to be fixated” with 90mph bowlers, and that focus should shift on to the batsmen for that tour.

Broad, who ended as the leading wicket-taker in the England-Pakistan Test series, in which Anderson claimed his 600th Test wicket, said it was too early to focus on the Ashes, which is scheduled to start in Australia in late 2021.

“There was talk in midsummer of him [Anderson] being past his best but we have a dreadful habit in this country of always looking to the future instead of enjoying what we have,” Broad wrote. “Why can’t we enjoy watching experienced, consistent players performing to a world-class level, and the fact that the England team is winning games?

“If you want to know what it takes to win Test matches in Australia, it’s not whether you have someone who can get up to 95mph. Glenn McGrath was still pretty useful coming up to his 37th birthday and bowling at 80mph when his team had 500 runs on the board. We should take the focus off which bowlers are going to be selected for that series because it’s an irrelevant conversation if you’re going to be bowled out for 200. It’s equally irrelevant if you’re bowled out for 300. You need to be reaching the 400s.”

Broad said he’s bowled “as best as ever” this summer, and that England’s bowling armoury has enough “talent” to get wickets in Australia. He reiterated that it’s the batsmen that will set the tone for wins in Australia, citing the example of the 2010/11 Ashes, when Alastair Cook [766 runs], Jonathan Trott [445 runs] and Kevin Pietersen [360 runs], among others, consistently came good in England’s 3-0 win.

“Look back at when England last won there in 2010/11: Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen all got big hundreds, scores of 150-plus. Ian Bell, Andrew Strauss and Matt Prior got hundreds, too. In all three wins, the team batted just once. Jimmy, Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett bowled in the mid-80s and England made big totals.”

Broad added that England’s hopes of reclaiming the urn in 2022 depended on the batsmen scoring enough runs to “keep the opposition out there until the second evening”.

“Steve Smith has batted against 90mph bowling throughout a career in which he averages the best part of 63,” Broad said. “But what he hasn’t done often is go out to bat having been fielding for two days and the opposition having a huge score on the board.

“Whoever we take, we have the talent within the bowling armoury to get wickets. Go through the list. Broad, Anderson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, Jofra Archer, Olly Stone, Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson. That is a unit that can take wickets Down Under, but there is no point any of the bowlers getting on the plane if we don’t get 400-plus in the first innings.

“So, if we are focusing on our own Champions League of two seasons away, let’s change the chat because big runs is key to winning back the Ashes.”

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