WHO could forget it? It was Sunday 7 August 2005, Australia needed just two runs to win the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston, England needed a solitary wicket. Steve Harmison thunders down to the crease, batsman Michael Kasprowicz gets the faintest of edges and Geraint Jones dives to his left to take the catch. The passage of play that ultimately decided the series. England heroes one and all.
Just under fifty miles down the road on that memorable day in Leicestershire was a young, fresh-faced 19-year-old, desperate to make his mark as a first-year professional.
In the shadows of father Chris, a former England opener, Stuart Broad was a young man as raw as you could get, but with the talent to one day follow in his father’s footsteps and wear the England shirt. Now, on the eve of this year’s Ashes, Harmison is left on the periphery and young seamer
Broad has blossomed into an England regular desperate to test his mettle against the Aussies for the first time.
“I remember the 2005 series very well,” Broad recalls. “It was my first season at Leicestershire and I remember tuning into the highlights programme after the match and being fixated. The Edgbaston Test, in particular, was fascinating, gripping stuff.
“I’d always had that massive desire to play for England but the 2005 series egged it on even further. It showed me the way and gave me a real taste of what international cricket is all about.”
Broad’s rise from young upstart to Test star has been rapid. After establishing himself as a key figure in the Leicestershire ranks, Broad was named Young Cricketer of the Year in 2006 before making his England bow in a Twenty20 international against Pakistan.
Now, thanks to a bowling average of 37.95 and an impressive, yet ever-improving, 31.35 with the bat for a No8, Broad is one of the first names on captain Andrew Strauss’s team sheet and confesses to still being a little dumb-struck by his rise to stardom.
“I never dreamt I would have the chance to play in the next home Ashes series,” he added. “It’s all happened very quickly for me, I’m learning very quickly, and now this is the next great challenge for me. I’ve never played against Australia so to do so in a home Ashes series is a huge honour.
“I’m very excited. The squad are very much together and we are building up for a huge day on Wednesday. It’s important we go out there Cardiff with a positive attitude to set the tone, not only for the Test, but also the series – to throw the first punch if you like.”
Broad was a key figure in England’s convincing 2-0 series victory over the West Indies earlier this summer, and believes the camaraderie in the current side is now comparable to the 2005 squad.
“We have the levels of confidence and the ability we wanted going into this Ashes series and a team belief where every player knows their role in the side,” he concluded. “I believe we have a fantastic opportunity to do something great in this series as long as we play the way we know how.”
l Stuart is working with Ocado to promote extreme price cuts on cricket-related foods over the summer. Being 6ft 5in, he admits to eating his mother out of house and home!