Stuart Broad’s body may not have enjoyed it much, but the England paceman was nonetheless delighted to have had a full day in the field in the tourists’ final warmup for the Ashes yesterday.
The 27-year-old was the pick of England’s bowlers on the opening day of the four-day match with three wickets in a bright early spell, but his teammates took some punishment later on from an Invitational XI.
After much of their previous warmup match in Hobart was lost to rain and wet weather forced them to train indoors in Sydney, the best news for England was the sunshine bathing the Sydney Cricket Ground.
“It was good to get a first full day in the field since September, I think I will personally benefit from that,” said Broad, who finished with figures of 3-36 from 20 overs. “I feel horrendous, my legs are barking at me, but you know as bowlers you are going to get better. Whatever work you do in the nets or whatever, it’s nothing like [a] game.”
Having said that, Broad was not worried that England, gunning for a fourth straight Ashes triumph, might arrive at the Gabba on Thursday next week undercooked.
“We’ve got guys who’ve played 50,60,70 Tests, guys who’ve got fantastic winning records and you can fall back on that experience when you don’t get that time in the middle,” he said. “There’s no concern about that in the dressing room.”
Having been restricted to a few dozen overs in the field in Hobart, England elected to bowl first when they won the toss and made the most of lively early conditions to reduce the locals to 93-5.
An unbeaten sixth-wicket partnership of 178 runs between Ryan Carters (94) and Peter Nevill (76) frustrated the tourists, though, and took the hosts to 271-5 at the close.
England’s pace attack for the opening Ashes Test in Brisbane next week is expected to comprise James Anderson, Broad with one other seamer.
With Anderson and Chris Tremlett rested, Steve Finn and Boyd Rankin had their chance to press for a place in the lineup for the Gabba Test, but neither grasped it.
Finn finished with two for 79, while Rankin probably bowled better, but headed back to the pavilion without a wicket and having given up 60 runs in 20 overs.
“It’s hugely exciting we have such a choice,” Broad said. “I genuinely feel whoever goes into that seamer’s spot will do a fantastic job.”
As expected, Kevin Pietersen was included in the team, despite having a cortisone injection in his knee on Sunday, while Michael Carberry looks set to make his Ashes debut next week after being named as an opener.
England coach Andy Flower said last week that the top six for this match would more than likely be the same as that for Brisbane.
Carberry, whose elevation to the starting XI would mean Joe Root dropping down to No. 6 in the batting order, did his chances no harm with a brilliant catch at backward-point to help Broad dismiss one of his victims, Ben Rohrer.
Broad was told to expect a hostile reception in Australia after controversially not walking in the first Ashes series of the year, but said he had experienced nothing but hospitality since his arrival.
“It’s been great so far, the reception at all the grounds has been great, but I’m sure it will be a bit livelier at the Gabba,” he said.