Broad: England expect
Stuart Broad knows there will be as much expectation from the England team to retain the Ashes this winter as there will be from their fans.
Broad, who played a pivotal role as England regained the urn at home last summer, is determined to taste victory again in his second Test series against Australia.
The 24-year-old became a sporting nation’s darling with a five-wicket haul at the Brit Insurance Oval that put his side on course to win the decisive Test last year.
England’s impressive record since then, including success in all six home series this summer, has heightened hopes of a first Test victory Down Under since 1986/87 when Broad’s father, Chris, was player of the series.
Broad junior knows what to expect of an Ashes contest and thinks he and his team-mates can achieve their aims in Australia.
“An Ashes series is very special; obviously the attention around it, the support you get during it is something a little bit different to every normal England game,” Broad told ecb.co.uk/video.
“My only experience of an Ashes series is the 2009 one, which we did fantastically well in - obviously winning in England.
“But it’s a different proposition going to Australia and I think there’s going to be expectation from back home for us to go and do well, but the expectation comes from within the changing room.
“I think we set ourselves really high standards and we back ourselves to execute our plans and go and do well.”
Broad believes England are well equipped to defend the Ashes, but he knows they will have to prove themselves all over again to achieve their winter objectives.
“I think we’ve got a fantastic opportunity going to Australia. I think we’ve played some great cricket throughout the whole summer,” he said.
“Australia are fantastic on their own turf, we know that, but we’ve built up some great confidence over the last 18 months.
“We’ve got the best spinner in the world in Graeme Swann, we’ve got seam bowlers who can take wickets and batsmen who can score runs.
“I think we’ve got all the attributes to go and win, but it’s up to us to put the performances on the pitch when we get there.
He added: “I think we have to just focus on what we’ve done well in the last 18 months, not go there fearful of what’s happened in the past.
“We can learn from that, but we need to go there with a fresh approach and do what we’ve been doing since both Andys [Strauss and Flower] took over and if we do that I think we stand a really good chance.”
Broad was England’s leading wicket-taker in the 2-1 series victory last year and is thrilled to be involved once again.
“It’s something you grow up with as a young English boy and I think that’s probably made bigger by my ‘old man’ having playing in an Ashes series in Australia in 1986/87,” he said.
“It’s certainly an amazing feeling getting on the flight to Australia but it means nothing unless we put performances in on the pitch.”
Fellow pace bowler James Anderson agrees with Broad that England have a magnificent opportunity to end their long search for victory on Australian soil.
“I think it’s probably the best chance we’ve had for a few years. We’ve had a really good summer leading up to it, actually a good sort of 12-18 months,” he said.
“We’ve shown over the last few years that we’ve got the skills in the team to be able to win down there, so I think the major part of the tour will be the mental side.
“We’ve got to really be mentally strong, not just when we’re playing the cricket, but also outside of cricket because we’re not in our comfort zone, we’re in another country.”