SK Elite: Stuart Broad's 8/15 against Australia at Trent Bridge
When Stuart Broad was smacked all over the Kingsmead ground in Durban by Yuvraj Singh in the inaugural T20 World Cup (he was hit for six sixes in an over), things looked bleak for the tall lanky blond fast bowler from Nottingham. Clearly, he didn’t have the best of starts to his international career.
Till then he had played 16 ODIs and averaged almost 37 and was also expensive on most occasions. But the selectors invested heavily in him since Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard were coming towards the end of their careers.
Broad took some time to settle in the England Test team after making his debut in December 2007 and got his first 5-wicket haul in his 20th innings against West Indies in 2009. He hasn’t looked back since.
One of the best things about Broad is his outstanding knack for producing magical spells where he runs through batting line-ups, setting up the game single-handedly for England. And he has done that quite a few times in his career.
His liking towards the Australian team and the Ashes is no secret. He just loves the big stage. Broad played his first Ashes at home in 2009 (he played all five Tests). In the fourth Test, when England were crashed to an innings defeat, he was their only shining light as he picked up 6/91.
However, it was the performance in the fifth and deciding Test at The Oval that sealed the Nottingham pacer’s slot for the long term. He dismantled Australia and took 5/37 to help England gain a big lead of 172, the Aussies were bowled out for 160. Broad's efforts helped the Three Lions regain the Ashes.
In 2013, he was at it again. At Chester-le-Street, after taking 5/71 in the first innings, Broad ran through the Australian line-up taking 6/50, as the visitors slumped from 168/2 to 224 all-out.
In 2015, Stuart Broad was in decent form and had taken 23 wickets in five Tests before the Ashes started. In the first three Ashes Tests, he picked up 12 wickets at a decent average of 27.42.
With a 2-1 lead, England looked to retain the Ashes at Trent Bridge. With James Anderson ruled out due to a side strain, Stuart Broad was expected to spearhead the attack.
England opted to bowl first on an overcast morning and a wicket which had a decent amount of grass. He would’ve hoped for a few early breakthroughs to put the Aussies on the back foot but what followed was absolute carnage, and Cook, in his wildest of dreams, wouldn’t have expected what he saw.
As England sought to regain the Ashes after a nightmarish 5-0 drubbing, captain Alastair Cook had said before the game that there was an opportunity for a player to have their name ‘etched in history’. It seemed like another soundbite until Broad started bowling.
Playing in front of his home crowd, Broad produced a spell that left everyone around the world in awe of his abilities. He ran through Australia’s batting, in a way never seen before. In 9.3 overs – 57 balls to be precise, he took 8 wickets giving away 15 runs as Australia were skittled out for a humiliating 60.
Bowling the first over of the game, he started off with a couple of looseners but was right on the money with his third delivery as he scalped Chris Rogers for a duck (first of Rogers’s career) with a brilliant outswinger from around the wicket. That wicket brought up his much-awaited 300th Test wicket.
Little did anyone know that it was the start of a dramatic collapse – a collapse which resembled the fall of nine pins. Broad picked up Smith in the same over to give England a fantastic start as Australia slumped to 10/2 in the very first over.
From there on, it was a procession which never stopped. Broad picked up a wicket in all of his first four overs (2 in the first) as he took just 19 balls (equalling the fastest fifer in terms of balls) to register his 14th five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
The tall Nottingham-born pacer bowled at a beautiful line and length in his unchanged 57-ball spell. Only about three out of his 57 deliveries were in line with the stumps as he attacked the area outside off-stump consistently, hardly erring in line or length. All of the 8 wickets, Broad took were edged and taken in the slips.
There was some poor batting and some good luck too (for Broad), as batsmen hardly seemed to miss a ball. Every edge was pounced at and England didn’t even let half-chances go through. But, no credit should be taken away from Broad who finished with 8/15 which helped England skittle Australia out for a mere 60, in 90 minutes (18.3 overs) – the shortest first innings in a Test match.
And the way Broad bowled in his unchanged spell was one of the finest spells in Ashes history. Yes, the conditions were in his favour, but he needed to deliver and bowl in good areas. And he did just that, constantly landing the ball at the same spot.
He started the day with 299 Test scalps and ended with 307, equalling Fred Trueman’s tally and as Cook said, 'etched his name into the history books'.