In the long stretch of time leading up to this Ashes series—two entire months—it has been apparent that one of Australia’s tactics was to get inside Stuart Broad’s head, and use his now-infamous “not walking” episode from the previous Ashes series as a point of attack. A way to get under his skin. They felt his fiery temper was a weak spot where they could get to him and lessen his effectiveness.
This told me a couple of things. First of all, it said to me that the Australians feared the impact of Stuart Broad as a bowler. Secondly, it told me that they really didn’t think very hard about it.
Had they perhaps thought about it a bit harder, they would have realized that attacking him and calling him a cheat, among other things, would actually serve to, more than anything else, inspire him. I think that sort of thing is meat and drink to a player like Broad, and has inspired many others in the past. Events of day one in Brisbane showed the folly of the tactic; it really backfired. Broad slashed through the Aussie top order, ending up with five wickets on the first day. Of course, there was every possibility this tactic might work. It has in the past. Sledging has long been a part of the Aussie arsenal (and by stating that I am not saying it’s bad). The Aussies just made a couple of mistakes in implementing this strategy. First, they picked the wrong player. Maybe they should have gone after Joe Root or Michael Carberry, as the members of the England side with the least amount of international experience. Second, they assumed that they are still a good enough team to capitalize on it should the tactic work. This Australian team is pretty good, but it is nowhere near the quality of past teams. Even an Australia Ashes victory wouldn’t change that fact.
So for day two, maybe the Aussies should be less fiery and “creative,” and take more of a lead from Brad Haddin, the only batsman who stood tall as the rest of the team fell in ruins.