Broad lives the dream
Stuart Broad admitted England’s Ashes triumph was the stuff off dreams as he basked in the glory of a “fantastic day”.
The all-rounder was named man of the match for his decisive five-wicket haul in the first innings, helping England establish a 172-run advantage which proved crucial in the outcome of the final Test.
He claimed the first of 10 wickets to fall today as England bowled Australia out for 348 to wrap up a series-clinching 197-run win in front of a joyous crowd at the Brit Oval.
“It’s what you dream about. It lived up to all the dreams,” said Broad. It’s been a fantastic day today, supported so well by the crowd.
“Everyone’s worked so hard throughout the series - full credit to all the boys. Trotty’s knock on debut was very special,” he added, referring to Jonathan Trott’s second-innings century.
“And the way Graeme Swann has bowled throughout the series has been brilliant.”
When asked how he feels about being seen as the natural successor to retiring all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, Broad modestly replied: “No-one can replace Fred.
“He’s been a fantastic England servant to England cricket. As an up-and-coming England all-rounder, it has been fantastic playing with him and I wish him all the best and hope to play a lot more with him in one-day cricket.”
Reflecting on his first-innings 5-37, he said: “We bowled well throughout the entire series. You dovetail sometimes as bowlers.
“Sometimes you get wickets and sometimes you don’t. I wasn’t expecting five as quickly as that - it’s certainly one of the best spells I’ve ever bowled. To finish with back-to-back five-fors has made this series for me.”
Swann, whose 4-120 in the second innings included the match-winning dismissal of Mike Hussey for 121 and gave him eight wickets in the match, was delighted he was able to perform so well under pressure.
He said: “You can’t help but read the papers and listen to the Sky guys saying, ‘It’s all down to Swann’... no pressure then!
“You get that as a spinner. I’m really happy with how I bowled today. The wicket early on settled things. I lost my temper a bit when the catches were going down but it’s all turned out well in the end!
“Colly just said to me ‘lap it up - it’s the best you’ll ever feel playing cricket’ and I hope he’s right. It’s incredible.”
Steve Harmison, who claimed two wickets in two balls late in the day to carry England to the brink of victory, admitted to experiencing a “surreal” feeling as the celebrations began.
“I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “It’s a surreal feeling, an amazing achievement by the 14 players that have played in the series. It’s up there with 2005.
“Everything that’s gone on with this side - a new coach, relatively new captain... the young lads showed good guts to come back from a bad day.
“Ricky (Ponting) alluded to it. Australia have scored more runs and taken more wickets but there’s some young lads who can be very proud of what they’ve done. They’ve stood up and done their bit and we’ve won the Ashes.
“People go on about we didn’t score enough hundreds, didn’t take enough wickets - it doesn’t matter. We’ve won. It’s like a football team having 70% of possession but losing 1-0.”
Harmison also paid tribute to retiring all-rounder and great friend Flintoff.
“I hope there’s a few ex-England cricketers watching this who have criticised his record. A man that can bat in the top six and bowl over 90mph. He’s a big lad with big shoes. Boy, they’re gonna take some filling.
“Twenty years we had to wait to replace Ian Botham. I hope for English cricket’s sake we don’t have to wait 20 years to replace Andrew Flintoff.
“The whole crowd was ‘Fred this, Fred that’. What a way to go. I wish him well with the operation and the rehab. He’s going to be a massive miss in international cricket.”
Ian Bell made sure Warwickshire team-mate Trott got a memento of his England debut, presenting him with a stump within seconds of the win.
Bell explained: “I was lucky enough on my debut to get one so thought I’d do the same.
“2005 was an eye-opener to Test cricket for me. It’s great to be involved in an Ashes series. These occasions don’t come around very often and he should have every bit of memorabilia he can get.
“At the start of the series I didn’t expect to be part of this game, so to be in this position is unbelievable. The memories of losing 5-0 (in Australia in 2006-07) made us think that little bit harder about what we had to do.
“These are exciting times for English cricket, it’s been a squad effort from everyone. We can celebrate the day but you have to keep moving forward and we want to keep moving up the rankings and become the number one Test team in the world.
“It’s important not to take our foot off the pedal but you have to savour these times because they don’t come around very often. This is what it’s about. This is what we were building towards.”
Trott was pleased with his keepsake and said: “I didn’t think about a souvenir; I didn’t know what to do. To be involved in this is a true honour, an unbelievable feeling.
“Everyone made it so easy for me to fit in. The couple of days’ training were brilliant, and walking out on debut felt like the best moment of my life.”
Kevin Pietersen, who missed the last three Tests after Achilles surgery, admitted it had been tough to watch from the stands.
He said: “Test matches against Australia, watching them are unbelievable. When you’re participating you feel a lot more in control. When you’re watching it’s so nerve-wracking because you can’t do anything.
“Coming to the ground this afternoon for the first time I thought, ‘I’d love to be playing now’. But I’ve realised that I’m injured, I’m out of it and I’ve tried to be as headstrong as I can to just watch it.”
Pietersen lauded the performance of Trott, and revealed he had been consulted over his inclusion.
He said: “He played beautifully. I was asked my opinion by Strauss after the fourth Test and I said, ‘I think Trott’s your man - he’ll have courage, he’ll have guts, he’ll have determination’.
“To get an opportunity, you need to take an opportunity , and I knew he’d take it because of how calm he is.”