Stuart Broad has said he’s ready to lead England’s attack as they bid for an Ashes-clinching win against Australia at his Trent Bridge home ground in the absence of James Anderson.
Broad is set to be England’s senior bowler in Nottingham after long-time new-ball partner Anderson was ruled out of the fourth Test with a side injury. Not only is Anderson England’s most successful Test bowler of all-time, with 413 wickets – including an Ashes-best six for 47 at Edgbaston – he also has a brilliant record at Trent Bridge.
The 33-year-old swing and seam bowler has taken 53 wickets in eight Tests there at an average of 19.24 with England’s victory in the 2013 Ashes Test at Trent Bridge yielding a 10-wicket haul for the Lancastrian.
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But the 29-year-old Broad, a veteran of 82 Tests, is an experienced campaigner in his own right. “In Jimmy’s absence it’s going to be up to all the other bowlers to step up,” Broad told the Mail on Sunday.
“I’ve probably not got as many wickets as I’d have liked during this series (12 in three matches at 27.41 apiece) but I feel as if I’ve bowled the best I’ve bowled for a long time.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen but hopefully I’ll take on that extra responsibility to ensure we’re not crying out for Jimmy over the next couple of days,” he added.
Broad heads into the Trent Bridge clash just one wicket away from becoming only the fifth England bowler to take 300 Test wickets after Anderson, Ian Botham, Bob Willis and the late Fred Trueman.
And having already scored more than 2,000 Test runs, including a best of 169 against Pakistan at Lord’s in 2010, Broad, the son of former England Ashes-winning opener Chris Broad, is also in sight of a notable ‘double’.
“It would have been nice to have got there at Edgbaston but the chance to achieve it at Trent Bridge is incredibly exciting,” he said. “I’m told only 11 players have scored 2,000 runs and taken 300 wickets in the history of the (Test) game so it’s quite illustrious company.”
Australia’s top order must be that “little bit tougher” if the team are to win the fourth Test against England according to batting coach Michael di Venuto.
The tourists suffered two significant collapses as England won the third Test at Edgbaston by eight wickets inside three days on Friday to go 2-1 up in the five-match Ashes series. In their first innings in Birmingham, Australia lost five wickets for 60 runs and the second saw four fall for 30.
Australia have not won an Ashes series in Britain since 2001 and the suspicion remains that, for all their recent success, they are ‘flat-track bullies’ whose batsmen struggle on pitches offering sideways movement – as was the case at Edgbaston.
Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, has scored 28 Test hundreds and has a career average touching fifty. But the star batsman has yet to get going this Ashes after scores of 10 and three at Edgbaston left him with a series aggregate of 94 runs in six innings at an average of under 19.
While Clarke is set to keep his place, fellow batsman Adam Voges could be replaced by Shaun Marsh for the fourth Test, which starts at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge on Thursday, given his series average of 14.60.
Both sides have made much of their desire to play ‘aggressive’ cricket but di Venuto, a former Australia one-day international but not capped at Test level, suggested ‘smarter’ cricket was the order of the day.
“It’s decision making at this level… whether you’re going to play or leave the ball, or attack the ball,” he told Australian media.
“We saw some indecision in a couple of our dismissals, a couple of bad shots. It’s hard work, nobody’s saying it’s easy especially with the way they (England) bowled.
“We’ve got to be a little bit tougher,” insisted di Venuto, who added that Australia were “slow off the mark” in adjusting to the seaming conditions at Edgbaston.
“It’s disappointing when that happens and it’s something we have to work on over the next few days,” he added.
Di Venuto accepted that no amount of practice could ever fully prepare a batsman for an inspired bowling spell or the sound of a raucous and partisan sell-out crowd.
But he said batsmen simply had to “get through” when conditions were against them.
“It’s obviously hard at training to do that sort of thing, but we’ve all been in those situations before out in the middle,” di Venuto explained.
“That’s where the two guys in the middle have to take responsibility and get through.”
Meanwhile, England batsman Ian Bell thinks the Ashes will “go right to the wire” and has acknowledged Australia are likely to be a stronger proposition for the fourth Test at Trent Bridge following their humbling at Edgbaston.
“We fully expect Australia to come back hard, if not harder, and this is going to go right to the wire,” Bell said on BBC Radio 5 Live. “I don’t see there being any draws in this series, so we have to play well.
“We have to front up again like we did (at Edgbaston) and we have to make sure we play the kind of cricket that we have done at Edgbaston at Trent Bridge.”
England coach Trevor Bayliss also believes the Aussies cannot be written off, especially their captain Clarke. “Michael has had a long career and had a few runs of form like this in the past, and he’s come back from them,” said Bayliss, who prior to taking the England job was coaching at New South Wales – Clarke’s home state.
Craig Ervine’s maiden century upstaged Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson’s record-breaking exploits as Zimbabwe stunned New Zealand by seven wickets in the first one-day international at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
Taylor and Williamson continued their remarkable run of form as New Zealand racked up 303 for four, only for Ervine’s dashing innings to carry Zimbabwe to victory with six balls to spare.
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The 29-year-old left-hander’s previous best in ODIs was 85, but promoted to the No. 3 position by coach Dav Whatmore, he finished unbeaten on 130 from just 108 deliveries as the hosts chased more than 300 for just the second time in an ODI.
“It has been a hard road for us, and it shows we are capable of winning games,” Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura said.
Williamson, who is captaining New Zealand on the tour in the absence of the rested Brendon McCullum, believed their total would have seen them to victory.
“I thought 303 was enough. It wasn’t easy up front and I thought it was a good effort,” he said. “They outplayed us in all areas though, so full credit to them.”
A Zimbabwean victory appeared highly unlikely after Taylor and Williamson added 137 for the third wicket to register their fourth straight century stand in ODIs. Zimbabwe started well enough after winning the toss and electing to bowl, removing openers Martin Guptill and Tom Latham in the opening 10 overs, but their inability to make further inroads left them exposed.
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Williamson and Taylor had no trouble in recording their 10th century stand in ODIs — a new record for a New Zealand pair. Taylor finished unbeaten on 112, his third ODI hundred in five matches and his 15th overall, and although Williamson missed out on an eighth ODI century, his controlled 97 was his fifth straight score above fifty in the format.
Williamson has now scored 1,134 ODI runs since the start of the year — the most by a New Zealand batsman in a calendar year — and sits top of the ODI run-scoring charts for 2015. Taylor is second on the list for 2015 with 1,041 runs, having helped himself to 59 runs in the final 10 overs as New Zealand moved from 188 for three to their final score to set Zimbabwe a tall target.
However, Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha put on 74 for the first wicket in reply, and after Chibhabha fell to Nathan McCullum for 42, Masakadza added a further 120 with Ervine. With Tim Southee rested and Trent Boult missing the tour through injury, New Zealand’s attack lacked teeth on a surface that flattened out as the day wore on, and Zimbabwe’s batsmen were able to keep the required rate within reach.
Masakadza was eventually caught behind for 84 off the bowling of McCullum, who also dismissed Elton Chigumbura for 26, but Ervine held his nerve to see Zimbabwe home with time to spare.