Batting failures hurt England – Broad

Venue: Sydney Date: 4-8 January Time: 23:30 GMT
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

Stuart Broad says it “doesn’t matter” which bowlers England play if they fail to post big first-innings scores.

The tourists were bowled out for 147, 236 and 185 in the first innings as they lost the first three Ashes Tests.

Broad, who played only one of those Tests, took 5-101 in the fourth as Australia declared on 416-8 and England closed day two on 13-0 in Sydney.

“You can dissect loads on this trip, but first-innings runs is where you live in Test cricket,” said Broad.

“We’ve failed to deliver that. It doesn’t matter what bowlers you play if you’re getting bowled out for 140. That might be a bit brutal, but that’s the truth in Test cricket.”

In a wide-ranging media conference, 35-year-old Broad also discussed his desire to continue playing Test cricket and a “realistic” ambition to be part of the next Ashes series at home in 2023, and urged England to change their planning to not look too far ahead into the future.

Broad’s only previous match in this series was the second Test in Adelaide. After England were beaten by 275 runs in that match, captain Joe Root publicly criticised his attack for bowling too short.

England have not yet posted a total of 300 in any innings, while only four batters – Root, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes – have made more than 100 runs across the series.

Broad, who was part of the England side that won in Australia in 2010-11, added: “I said in an interview eight months ago that, coming to Australia, first-innings runs are everything.

“We’ve got an opportunity tomorrow. I hope someone is sat here tomorrow having scored a big hundred and answering some positive questions.”

‘If you don’t win the battle in front of you, it’s irrelevant’

England lost the Ashes series at the earliest possible opportunity despite claiming to have planned meticulously for the trip down under.

Their 2021 included a number of players being rotated in and out of the Test side, partly as a result of the conditions imposed by Covid restrictions, as England looked to target winning the Ashes and the T20 World Cup.

However, they were beaten in the semi-finals of the World Cup and have won only one of their past 12 Tests.

And their decision-making in Australia has been criticised, including selections for the first two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide, captain Root opting to bat first at the Gabba and the use of a Lions squad that was shadowing the senior team.

And Broad has now urged England to focus less on long-term planning in favour of success in the short term.

“Instead of looking ahead at what is coming next year, in the winter, the next Ashes series, actually can we get back to the real basics of what is ahead of us right now?” he said.

“Sometimes when your brain leads you too far away from what’s in front of you, you’re not focused on delivering what you need to deliver in that Test.

“We don’t know what the world or cricket is going to look like in June, or next November, but can we win tomorrow and the next opportunity that is in front of us?

“That should be a real focus for the England cricket team going forward. It’s well and good planning for the Ashes, or the next away Ashes, looking at the World Test Championship, but if you don’t win the battle in front of you, it’s irrelevant.”

Next Ashes is ‘realistic’

Broad is England’s second-highest wicket-taker of all time with 531, behind only long-time team-mate James Anderson, who has 640.

However, for the past two years he has not been an automatic selection in an England team that has often alternated the bowling attack.

Broad, though, is the leading wicket-taker in the world over the past three years and says he still has a “burning desire” to play Test cricket after discussing his future with his father Chris, a former England opener.

“A few years ago I was umming and aahing, and I spent a lot of time speaking to my dad about it,” said Broad.

“He had a great belief that you should play the sport you love for as long as you can. While the fire burns, you should play because nothing replicates it in life.

“Nothing can bring you the satisfaction, the pain, the highs and the lows.”

And Broad also said it was “absolutely” realistic for him to play in the next Ashes, with 39-year-old Anderson as his inspiration.

“Jimmy is 40 in the summer and is the most professional I’ve seen him,” said Broad. “That has set a guideline of how to approach it at that age.

“I feel like I have the motivation and the drive, I feel like I’m as disciplined as he is, I feel like I can contribute as much as he has since that age.

“He’s a driving force behind my mindset. He’s great to be around. Hopefully I get to play more Test cricket with him.”

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