STUART BROAD: Joe Root and Chris Silverwood had the most difficult job I can remember during the Ashes… but the reality is we England players were not good enough throughout the series in Australia
- Stuart Broad discusses the challenges facing England’s current leadership group
- England have made 47 changes of personnel in 15 Tests over the last two years
- Broad runs the rule over the Ashes series, from a personal and team perspective
There has been speculation about the leadership positions of the England Test team in the aftermath of the Ashes series defeat but I think it’s important to place things into context.
In my lifetime I cannot recall a more difficult two years for anyone to have been captain or coach. We have played an extortionate amount of Test cricket. We’ve changed our players considerably to look after mental health – we’ve made 47 changes of personnel in 15 Tests.
Compare that to the rest of the world and I’d be surprised if anyone is anywhere near that level of turnover.
Joe Root and Chris Silverwood had an incredibly tough job during the Ashes, says Stuart Broad
It’s been incredibly tough for both Joe Root and Chris Silverwood to get any consistency in playing XIs or in the coaching staff and that makes it hard to reinforce the messages you are trying to get across to the team. I have a huge amount of sympathy for both of them.
Contrast this to Australia. During his post-match interview on the Hobart outfield, Pat Cummins said one of the hardest things about the global pandemic is that they hadn’t played much Test cricket.
It almost drew a chuckle from me. There are teams like Australia who haven’t toured during Covid times while we have played game after game after game.
From a leadership point of view, operating to such a saturated calendar and having to implement so many changes must make it virtually impossible to plan.
I bet if you spoke to Clive Woodward, Eddie Jones, Alex Ferguson or Jürgen Klopp they would tell you how they like to target certain games for their teams to be in prime condition.
But in Australia this winter, no one could plan for the weather we had in the build-up, the lack of competitive warm-up matches and facilities, or the Covid outbreaks we had to contend with. These are not excuses for losing, but they are reasons.
England players suffered an embarrassing 4-0 Ashes loss to Australia this winter
At the end of the day, we England players weren’t good enough, Australia are a better Test team than us, and contain greater armoury in more positions.
I’m not sure any of our squad will be able to reflect on too many emotional ups from the trip, other than the honour and prestige of playing for England in an Ashes series.
During 2020, the first year of Covid, I think we coped really well but second-year syndrome struck us pretty badly.
To win in Australia you need your England team to be at its absolute best and for Australia to have a really wobbly, torrid time. That is what happened in both 1986–87 and in 2010–11.
In those years, Australia were changing their batting and bowling line-ups and England had teams at their best. Unfortunately, none of the stars aligned in this series.
On a personal level, I think I did as best I could. With no game time leading in, coming back from a calf injury, I had to lean on a lot of experience: the experience of being at those grounds before, experience of bowling at those batters previously and experience of playing 14 years of international cricket.
One thing I feel down the most about, as someone who considers themselves to be good under pressure and a big game player – which has been shown through my performances in the Ashes over the years – is that I bowled the majority of my overs when the series was gone.
Stuart Broad went into the Ashes with no game time, having just returned from a calf injury
There has been a lot of criticism levelled at us as a team and I think it has been just. We had a lot of performances that were unacceptable.
What frustrates people is when a team gets bowled out in a hurry as happened in Hobart, where I thought we had a chance of winning.
In contrast to Melbourne, where Scott Boland took six for seven and there was no chance of an England win, when we were chasing 270 with Zak Crawley and Rory Burns batting there was some positivity developing.
Unfortunately, and this is why I don’t particularly like pink ball Test cricket, conditions can change pretty quickly, and if you are bowling with the new ball under the lights you have a huge advantage. I’m not a big fan of that.
Yes, we should have made a better fight of things and I don’t think any of the players are disappointed with the level of criticism – because if you are playing top-flight sport you deserve it for under-par performances.
But the analysis of defeat shows the difference between the scrutiny placed on red ball and white ball cricket in our country.
At the start of the winter, you would’ve said England had a much better chance of winning the World Cup than the Ashes yet when we got knocked out in the semi-final there was no real negative reaction.
There was no suggestion of tearing up the domestic game when we lost to New Zealand in Abu Dhabi. It only happens post Ashes defeats.
Yes, you can try to tweak things as Australia have done in the past by introducing the Dukes ball to the Sheffield Shield.
But sometimes the county game gets harshly treated. I’ve played a lot of county cricket since the start of 2019 and I believe it’s important not to disrespect it.
Yes, you could play more in June and July, and take the seam on the ball down slightly.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think introducing the Kookaburra ball would be a good thing because in my opinion it is not of good enough quality to cope with English moisture. It would swell.
Columnist Stuart Broad is not keen on introducing the Kookaburra ball to the English game
I accept that some pitches could be better – I am lucky as I get to play on very good surfaces at Trent Bridge – but it’s hard to blame all our batting failures this winter on county cricket because we also failed at home against New Zealand and India last summer.
From a player’s perspective, we have returned home to digest disappointment and I know from experience how these tours make you feel so I told a couple of team-mates not to talk cricket or even think about our impending tour of the Caribbean for at least seven days.
At times like these you can feel very low, as though you’ve let everybody down but if you start thinking about getting on a plane again in a month’s time for three Test matches versus West Indies, you’ll dread it.
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