Broad takes a trip down memory lane
Former England opening batsmen Chris Broad remembers the 1986-87 Ashes like it happened yesterday.
Broad was a member of the last England side to win the Ashes in Australia, courtesy of a 2-1 victory 24 years ago.
The left-handed opening batsman, now an ICC match referee, was part of Mike Gatting’s squad of talented performers and made a huge impact on the series.
Indeed, his 487 runs - including three centuries - at a remarkable average of 69.57 earned him the player of the series award.
Having already picked up a convincing win in Brisbane and draws in Perth and Adelaide, the series-defining match was in Melbourne and Broad clearly remembers the moment victory was sealed when Merv Hughes was caught off Phil Edmonds.
“I think the main memory was the ball landing in Gladstone Small’s hands out at deep square-leg and him throwing the ball up as high as he possibly could and then everyone running towards Phil Edmonds and Mike Gatting and just having a group hug,” he told ecb.co.uk. “Just a job well done really.”
Broad had a huge part to play at the MCG, scoring his third consecutive first-innings hundred, but revealed he had to be patient to reach that ton.
“I remember getting a bit nervous in the 90s and not getting a delivery I thought I could get runs away with particularly when I was on 99,” he recalled.
“I was on 99 for some considerable time and it wasn’t until a ball short of a length off Bruce Reid was on my hip and I managed to work it through wide mid-on to get to my hundred, so it was a bit of a nervous time.”
Broad, father of injured England paceman Stuart, was part of a team that enjoyed each other’s success and, although he played his part, the only thing that mattered was victory.
“As long as the team won, it didn't matter who contributed but sure what happened afterwards has certainly written my name in the record books and I keep getting phone calls about it,” he joked.
The former Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire man revealed everything fell into place on that tour Down Under, which gave him the confidence and determination to succeed with the bat.
“I think every cricketer has a purple patch and it happened to be my purple patch. I was just in the form of my life and the pitches were good,” he said.
“The challenge of an England-Australia contest was good, exciting and strong. I was just in the right zone and in the right place at the right time.”
The prospect of a packed MCG never fazed Broad or his team-mates as they convincingly beat Australia by an innings and 14 runs.
“We had good crowds throughout the series,” he added. “I mean an England-Australia contest attracts a good crowd and is always a good series and people enjoy coming along to watch it.
“To be perfectly honest a full house of 25,000 or a full house of 90,000 doesn't make a huge difference. It’s still a loud noise and atmosphere to play in front of.
“You say 90,000 people and it’s a wow factor but as you walk out to bat, bowl and field your concentration is on the ball and what goes on around you doesn't really come into focus very much.”
England vitally struck the first blow on that tour, winning in Brisbane by seven wickets, and Broad feels that performance set the tone for the rest of the series.
“It is crucial to get on top in any series,” he observed. “To be able to strike the first blow is very important and we got off to a fairly good start in Brisbane and we continued it with good draws in Adelaide and Perth.
“We were still very confident throughout the series and we got a win in Melbourne which was the series-clincher.”
Broad, who made six centuries in a 25-Test career that spanned five years, insists it was a pleasure to play alongside the likes of Ian Botham and David Gower.
“It was fantastic. I mean they were legends of their time and as it’s proved today, their careers are there for all to see. They were fantastic players,” he enthused.
“I think Botham said it was his last major tour and most enjoyable tour of Australia and it certainly was because it was a win and I think any team to tour Australia and win is always going to be an enjoyable trip.
“It certainly will live long in the memory for all of the players that were on that tour.”