By Rob Barnett
Stuart Broad’s pleasure was etched across his face as he reflected on a “special” opening day of the Ashes for England.
Broad shone with the ball at Brisbane after Australia won the toss in ideal batting conditions, claiming the first four wickets en route to fine figures of 5-65 that limited the hosts to 273 for eight.
After Chris Rogers was taken at gully in the fourth over, the tourists did not strike again until the brink of lunch when Shane Watson edged to second slip.
Any early England apprehension was overcome in the afternoon session when Broad claimed two of the four wickets to fall.
Despite a century partnership between Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson, which Broad broke with the second new ball to complete his five-for, the paceman was thrilled with England’s day.
Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, he said: “First of all, as a side, after losing the toss on that wicket, to get eight wickets in a day we’re so delighted with.
“It was really hard work, roasting hot this afternoon. There are some tired guys in that changing room but some really satisfying (sic) guys. We’ve worked hard in three and a half weeks to prepare for today.
“You’re always going to get the nerves that you do in the first hour of a series. That showed a little bit, but we really settled back into what we do best and that’s stay patient and create chances. To get eight wickets is pretty special today.”
Broad was understandably happiest with the wicket of home captain Michael Clarke, whom he set up to have held at short-leg just after lunch.
“It’s always nice when a plan comes together. You saw the two short-legs go in, leaving mid-on open, but still having the three slips. It was really good to get that ball exactly how I wanted it to,” he added.
“When you have a short period where the ball is hard and you’ve got their star man in, you really need to execute your plans well.
“So to get that bouncer on the money as I did, you saw how much it meant to the side. We were running round like little kids. It was a really good day for us so hopefully we can back it up tomorrow.”
The resistance of Haddin and Johnson, who fired 78 not out and 64 respectively, showed just how good a batting surface the Gabba pitch is. That combined with the softening Kookaburra ball is something Broad believes England can exploit with the bat.
“I think it’s going to be a bit of a pattern throughout this series,” he predicted. “You might lose new-ball wickets, but that 40 to 80-over period it’s really hard to remove batsmen.
“We can take big positivity into our batting line-up, knowing that if you can get through that new ball you can really cash in from 40 to 80. The wickets go flat and not alot happens, but it means when you get that new ball in your hand you’ve got to fire up again.”