Stuart Broad once again raised his game for the big occasion to ensure England enjoyed the near perfect start to the 2013/14 Ashes series as he helped reduce Australia to 273-8 with a scintillating five wicket haul that included the prize dismissal of baggy green skipper Michael Clarke.
Broad, who won’t be named by Brisbane newspaper Courier Mail, got the ball rolling with just his seventh legal delivery of the day as he dismissed Chris Rogers for one.
What followed initially afterwards was David Warner demonstrating why he can be a fantastic cricketer as he and Shane Watson enjoyed a 59 run partnership that threatened to make the host the winners of the first session.
However this was Broad’s day and in the final over before lunch Watson fended one to Graeme Swann at slip to leave the Aussies faltering at 71-2.
Then came the biggie and in truth it was no surprise as England’s momentum man was all over the Australian Captain during the last Ashes series, picking up Clarke’s wicket fives time in England, and he won this first battle comprehensively.
Clarke never looked confident against his nemesis and when Broad fired in a short one in the second over of the afternoon session, Ian Bell was presented with a simple catch.
On the ropes and needed their batters to come out fighting, for once, Warner offered no punches and instead he got out one short of a deserved half century when he picked out Kevin Pietersen perfectly at cover. Broad deservedly had his fourth.
Steve Smith played some wonderful shots during his 59 ball stay as he and 31-year-old debutant George Bailey were the first to be tasked with staging a recovery but England’s paceman had other ideas.
Jimmy Anderson, as usual, was his accurate best, probing outside off and dropping in his trademark inswinger consistently. He prized Bailey to push at one and Alastair Cook took a good low catch to leave Australia in disarray.
Smith’s fight ended when Chris Tremlett got some extra bounce to earn his first Test wicket in two years but at 132-6, Australia were always going to provide a comeback. This is Ashes cricket it is part of the mantra.
Brad Haddin batted magnificently. He is the type of man you want in your corner when fighting a battle and it was no surprise that he finished unbeaten on 78 not out. His wicket in the morning is vital.
Mitchell Johnson provided good resistance with the bat, he made a composed 64, which was crucial to his team but just as he and Haddin looked to be leading Australia to safer shores, the man of the moment popped up again.
The 114 run partnership ended when Broad got the new ball in his hand. He got one to nip back and crash into the stumps to send Johnson on his way. The England bowler has been booed and faced abuse, predictability, throughout the day.
The perfect response was lifting the ball to the Brisbane crowd to salute his five-fer and on this occasion there was a mixture of boos and applause from the Gabba crowd.
Anderson was able to prize one more wicket out of the Aussies, unfortunately it wasn’t Haddin but Siddle was on his way and at the close the host were reeling.
The first day of this Ashes series belonged to Broad and England and you wouldn’t bet against Broad enjoying plenty more days like this throughout the tour. He is a player for the big occasions and occasions don’t get much bigger than an away series in Oz.
You feel he has unfinished business down under too having been forced to leave the previous series early due to injury. I expect we will continue seeing his name in the headlines as he silences the Australian public with more five-star displays like today.
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