Stuart Broad believes England’s tight spot in the first Ashes Test still represents their best position after three days at the Gabba since his dad Chris was in the team more than 30 years ago.
England’s efforts to test Steve Smith’s patience failed to stop him grinding out an unbeaten 141 – over more than eight and a half hours – in an Australia total of 328 all out as they eked out a lead of 26.
Josh Hazlewood was then the successful new-ball bowler in a dramatic final session which ended with England 33 for two.
Even so, Broad was able to put a positive spin both on Smith’s close-of-play remarks – the Australia captain accused England of defensive bowling from the outset – as well as a precarious match situation.
England have famously not won in Brisbane since 1986/87, when Mike Gatting’s tourists had Broad’s father opening the batting and Ian Botham as their man of the match.
After taking three for 49 here, Broad said with a smile: “I think after three days, we’re probably the best-placed England side here for 30 years.
“It was crucial we only lost two tonight. You can easily lose four of five, and that’s the Test gone … it could have been a lot worse.”
As for the frustrations voiced by Smith off the field, if none evidently shown on it, Broad added: “Perfect. We know they like to score quickly. If we can restrict them from scoring boundaries, we’ll have periods of taking wickets.”
He was nonetheless impressed with Smith’s 21st Test century.
“He played brilliantly – what you come to expect from him in Australia. He showed discipline around off-stump … (but) credit to us, that was his slowest ton, so we didn’t let him get away from us.”
If Smith was vexed at any point out in the middle, he dealt with them very effectively.
But afterwards, he said: “I thought they were pretty defensive from the outset. It was as if they were waiting for batters to make mistakes.
“It felt very defensive, (so) it might be a series where boundaries are hard to come by.”
Broad, meanwhile, was required to vouch for the well-being of both his captain Joe Root – who took a blow to the helmet from a Mitchell Starc bouncer – and his pace partner James Anderson.
The latter got through 29 overs to Broad’s 25, but that did not stop high-profile pundits Michael Vaughan and Graeme Swann both voicing concerns about a possible, unspecified injury after Anderson was seen grimacing in the field on television footage.
An England spokesman reported Anderson is “fine”, and Broad added: “I don’t really know where this mystery injury has come from. He’s just bowled 30 overs for 50.
“I’ve spent the whole day with him – he’s not moaned about anything, or said he’s sore or injured.”
Root continued batting and was unbeaten at the close after being hit by Starc, and Broad said: “It’s always worrying when you see someone get hit like that.
“But he has passed the concussion tests … I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
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