We must score heavily - Broad
All-rounder Stuart Broad claims England’s hopes of retaining the Ashes in Australia will rest on their ability to post big first-innings totals.
The squad fly to Perth on Friday to begin their preparations for the most eagerly awaited of series, bidding to achieve what no England side have managed since 1987 by returning home with the urn.
To do so, England need only draw the five-match campaign and, although Broad insists England “couldn’t be in a better place” prior to their departure, he is under no illusions over the importance of scoring heavily on pitches that traditionally offer less assistance to the bowlers.
“Runs on the board are key,” he said. “We’ve got a bowling attack that has got a lovely balance to it - tall bowlers, a fantastic spinner and Jimmy (Anderson), who can swing the ball.
“But we all know that scoreboard pressure creates wickets and big first-innings totals are something we’ve got to produce.
“If we can go and get 400 in the first innings, which is our target every time, it puts huge pressure on the Australians.”
With Australia no longer the force they once were - they sit below England in the International Cricket Council Test rankings - there is widespread optimism among England fans that Andrew Strauss’ men can achieve what Mike Gatting’s did almost a quarter of a century ago.
The tourists are also buoyed by a successful summer in all forms of the game, and Broad is adamant he and his colleagues can take further comfort from the manner in which they coped with the corruption allegations that marked Pakistan’s tour.
“We have had some tough times this summer, with all the controversies that surrounded the game,” he added. “At times it’s been hard to focus on what we have to do win the Test matches and one-day games.
“But we came through that really well and that was a good test for Australia, putting all the distractions aside and concentrating on the cricket.
“We couldn’t be in a better place boarding that flight to Australia.”
Broad, whose father Chris played a central role in England’s 1986-87 triumph, when Stuart was less then a year old, knows more than most what awaits the current crop of players should they repeat the feat.
However, he is aware of the perils of casting his thoughts too far in the future before the start of a Test series that will last more than three months.
“We’ve not won there for 20-plus years,” Broad said. “Every player knows it’s important we don’t look towards January and the final Test.
“We must look at the first Test in Brisbane: win the first hour, win the first day, and move on from there.
“It’s important to look at small targets and not to get too carried away with the end result.”