The Aussies are coming to Edgbaston for the first Ashes test and local hero Stuart Broad is fired up and ready for action. The record-breaking paceman tells David Johns why this match will be extra special
The countdown is on to one of the Midland’s biggest summer sporting occasions – and local lad Stuart Broad is well and truly fired up and ready to go. The English pace bowler has his sights set on dishing out some pain to the Aussies when Edgbaston cricket ground hosts the first Ashes test starting on 1 August.
The sight of Stuart is like showing red rag to a bull as far as the Australians are concerned. He’s not only reserved some of his most damaging bowling performance for their batsmen over the years, he’s also earned himself a controversial reputation – prompting the-then Australian coach to urge their supporters to hound him and ‘make his life hell’ when England toured Down Under.
The reception Stuart received was vitriolic and threatening, and while the Edgbaston crowd will give the Aussies some stick for sure, it will be loud and boisterous rather than aggressive and abusive. Edgbaston has been picked by the English Cricket Board for the first of the summer’s five Ashes tests exactly because of the intense, raucous and partisan support the Birmingham crowd always delivers on big occasions.
Stuart said: “Edgbaston is our loudest ground in England. The atmosphere erupts right behind us as a team. You can never underestimate how much that lifts the team. You only have to look at our record there. I can’t wait to get there and take on the Aussies!”
This Ashes, the chances are that the Edgbaston air will be filled with less-than-polite language from the packed stands for the Australians’ returning batsmen David Warner and Steve Smith, who were banned for a period after the infamous ball-tampering scandal in a test match against South Africa in 2018. “It’s going to be lively, that’s for sure,” said Stuart. “The Edgbaston crowd is already raucous and they are going to let Smith and Warner know what they think of them. They won’t let them forget it for sure.”
THE BOO BOYS
As previously mentioned, Stuart is no stranger to controversy himself. In the 2013 Ashes series he refused to follow cricket’s ‘gentleman’s rule’ of walking when caught off a thick edge while batting. England went on to win the game by 14 runs and Stuart’s action incensed the Australian players, leading to their head coach calling him a cheat and urging crowds Down Under to boo him in all future Ashes games. “It was tough to face all of that, yes, but weirdly enjoyable,” he remembers. “I’d prepared for it and actually felt myself thrive on it. My view was, if they didn’t rate you as a player they would just ignore you, so I took it as a compliment.” The episode shows what a fierce and uncompromising competitor Stuart is, while being totally charming off the pitch.
Stuart has no doubt about his best Ashes memory. “Regaining the Ashes at Trent Bridge in 2015. The Saturday morning, only 40 minutes of play, but the feeling of our team taking that final wicket on my home ground in front of family and friends was special. So that winning moment is ahead of my eight for 15 two days earlier as my greatest Ashes memory.”
Following in the footsteps of his England cricketing father Chris Broad, Stuart’s county career began at Leicestershire in 2005, before he moved to his current home of Nottinghamshire in 2008. His test career highlights include that eight-wicket in an innings haul and scoring 169 in a record-breaking 332-run partnership with Warwickshire batting legend Jonathan Trott against Pakistan.
Despite not playing for either Warwickshire or Worcestershire his ties with Birmingham and the West Midlands have always been strong. He is brand ambassador for Warwickshire’s famous Ryder Cup home and resort, The Belfry, and has contributed in his role with evening and charity match events and promoting The Belfry’s highly-regarded PGA Golf Academy.
“I am delighted to be a Belfry ambassador given the resort’s unrivalled history and heritage,” he said. “As for the course? It’s history, it’s a challenge. Incredible shots have been played by incredible players and special moments in the history of the game, and we, as amateurs, get the chance to try and replicate them. Amazing. You’re lying if you say you haven’t tried to hit the tenth green in one. What’s more, it is such a warm, friendly and welcoming place to visit. Every member of staff wants you to enjoy your experience, and they really add to it.
“When I’m on the golf course my mind concentrates on a different skill to cricket. So I escape the pressures of cricket, using new techniques, facing new challenges. The challenge of The Belfry is exciting. It’s my dream for Tiger Woods and my dad to play Phil Mickelson and myself. And Phil & I win, shaking hands with dad and Tiger on the 18th green at The Belfry after I just got up and down to win.”
A keen fan of football as well as golf, Stuart’s personal heroes include Nottingham Forest and England hardman Stuart Pearce, while he is a big admirer of rugby’s former England and Leicester Tigers legend Martin Johnson. When it comes to cricket, there is only one man – and that’s Australia’s fast bowler Glenn McGrath. “These are my heroes because they all played with a special passion and spirit,” says Stuart.
As for playing his favourite sports, Stuart says: “Golf is definitely the toughest to play! Each sport has its moments. Imagine the pressure being over a six-foot putt to win a Major having worked all your life for that moment? Incredible. Then imagine a 95mph Mitchell Johnson bowling every ball at your head in front of 99,000 at the MCG with a test match on the line. Every top flight sport tests you to the maximum.”
Right now though, Stuart is fully focused on his cricket in what is a huge summer for England’s players and fans alike with the World Cup preceding the five-test Ashes series, which runs through August and into mid-September.
It’s our year, it’s written in the stars,” says Stuart. “Joe Root – Sports Personality of the Year 2019. You heard it here first.”