Stuart Broad’s 8-FER In Ashes 2015: The Performance Of A Lifetime

ATUL KUMAR MAURYA |21st April 2020

Iwas Day 1 of the 4th Ashes test in 2015, with the series poised at a climatic turn. England won the first test in Cardiff with a fine margin of 169 runs, however, Australia did hit back hammering their sworn enemies and taking the second test away, winning by a whopping margin of 405 runs at Lord’s. With the series tied at 1-1, England again gained the upper hand, winning by 8 wickets to take a 2-1 lead at Edgbaston. The English came to Trent Bridge to retain the Ashes, where a draw or a win would’ve been enough to seal the deal. On the other hand, the Aussies had to pull off a mighty comeback in order to regain the Ashes. England had to deal with a blow though, as their spearhead James Anderson was injured and replaced by Mark Wood in the side. Alastair Cook won the toss, and asked Australia to bat first. Openers Chris Rogers and David Warner were ready to take on the English attack, led by Stuart Broad. 

Broad decided to go round the wicket against the combination of left-handers, playing to his strengths. Australia were off with 4 leg byes, the ball doing quite a bit in the air. 3rd ball of the first over and it was a beauty; Broad got his line and length spot on with the one that comes in with the angle and nips off the seam. Chris Rogers edged it to first slip, where the captain Cook made no mistake and England were off the mark. Broad handed Rogers his first ever duck and scalped his 300th test wicket in the process. Next in was Steve Smith.

Smith started positively from the word go. But Broad had other plans. With Smith moving across the stumps, Broad steamed in with a back of a length ball just outside off, squaring up the right-hander, who edged it straight to third slip where Root made no mistake. At the end of first over, Australia were reeling at 10 for 2 and Broad had started proceedings in unplayable fashion. 

Mark Wood shared the new ball with Stuart Broad. Replacing Anderson, Wood had a huge task up his sleeve, but he delivered brilliantly. Australia were trying to come up with a plan on how to tackle the situation, considering sticking to the basics and restoring calm when a pacey back of a length delivery from Wood, nipped back sharply off the seam and took the inside edge of Warner, reminding the Aussies of the famous Mike Tyson saying, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Or as it goes in this case, until they get rattled by an absolute peach from Wood. Jos Buttler took the catch and sent Warner packing for a duck. The Australians were in a total disbelief at 10 for 3. Michael Clarke, the leader of the pack joined Shaun Marsh as damage control was on the agenda and knowing how gifted the pair was, they were well capable of pulling their side out of the quicksand created by an English bowling onslaught.

Broad spearheaded this phenomenon, charging in from round the wicket to trouble the left-handed Marsh. And he did exactly that. On the fourth ball of the over, Broad bowled full outside off, bringing Marsh to come onto the front foot as the ball seamed away beautifully, flying past the edge and straight into hands of Ian Bell at second slip. Australia were stuttering in a flash. Stuart Broad was tearing through an otherwise flamboyant Aussie batting line-up who looked helpless at times.

Shaun Marsh’s face says it all

Adam Voges, known for his resilience stepped onto the create as the Aussies were sinking. A man who had built a reputation of digging his side out of the toughest situations, this seemed like familiar territory for Voges. But something special was still to come. Broad on the first ball of his next over got the priced wicket of Voges. Seems plausible enough as things stand, right? But it wasn’t just Broad’s wicket, it was Stokes’ as well to anyone who had witnessed the magnitude of the moment.

A full ball at the off stump, Voges came forward and was compelled to play at it and pushed hard. Everyone would’ve thought that the thick edge would go past the slips, but Stokes at fifth slip intervened. He flung to his right, taking a single-handed screamer when the ball was almost behind him. The look of disbelief on Broad’s face said it all. Ben Stokes pulling off blinders has become standard procedure as England’s talisman came up trumps once again.  The scorecard read 21 for 5. Yes, the same scoreline from the first Ashes test at Lord’s in 2005. But the roles were reversed this time round. Australia were struggling, with Broad doing to them what McGrath did to England in 2005.

Peter Nevill, the wicketkeeper batsman, joined Clarke, who was holding the other end. Despite Australia suffering and being front and center of an utter shambles, they still had Michael Clarke out there, a generational batsman who had passed variations of any and every test thrown at him. It’s the hope that kills you and, in this case, Stuart Broad was in cahoots with it to put an end to any chances of revival for the Aussies.

On the first ball of Broad’s next over, Clarke played a horrid shot. Counter-attacking, the Australian captain flashed on a wide delivery, and the edge flew to the first slip where Cook took a smart catch above his head. Broad had a fifer and Clarke had a howler. As his stats read 5 wickets for 6 runs in just 3.1 overs, numbers couldn’t fully do justice to the masterclass Broad brought to the ultimate battle in Test cricket. With this wicket, the Aussie batting tail was well and truly exposed.

Steven Finn replaced Mark Wood at the other end to share the fairly new ball with Broad. In his second over, Finn got Nevill with a jaffa. Pitching full at off stump, the ball nipped back of the seam and went through the gate to hit the top of off-stump and Nevill didn’t know where to move, as his footwork was nonexistent, and he paid the price for it. As Starc and Johnson touched gloves, it painted a grim picture of just how far the Aussies had fallen on the day.

The fast bowling duo showed some resistance till Broad came charging in again. In the 13th over of the innings, Broad got Starc from round the wicket, a formula that had worked wonders for him all day as he put one in the channel, and the Aussie pacer was stuck in the crease as he nicked the ball to third slip where Root took it comfortably. 2 balls later, a carbon copy of the last dismissal took place as Johnson edged it to Root in similar fashion as Starc did. It was almost as if the two dismissals did not require separate action replays. Australia were 9 down at 47 at this moment, looking at a monumental task of bowling to their very peak in the 2nd innings.

Nathan Lyon walked out to join Josh Hazlewood as the last partnership for Australia and as their last possible saving grace, which was hoping against hope, of course. They both tried and quietly took back the attack to the bowlers, till the 19th over of the innings.

After flashing Broad over the slip cordon on the previous ball for a four, Lyon edged an extra bouncing delivery to the fifth slip where Stokes took it easily. Australia were skittled for a mere total of 60 runs in the first innings as Stuart Broad’s figures read: 9.3-5-15-8. You read that right- 15 for 8. The wickets tally for Broad changed from 299 to 307 in a flash as he breezed past the Australian line-up, achieving the feat at his home ground in Nottingham, a fitting end to a glorious display. This was undoubtedly his best ever bowling performance, suggested both by the figures and the magic on display. On the other hand, Australia lasted for just 111 balls, the shortest-ever first innings of a Test back then.

A man possessed

England then amassed a total of 391-9d and then got Australia out for 253 in the second innings with Ben Stokes taking a 6-fer. England won the match in resounding fashion by an innings and 78 runs, retaining the Ashes in the process. Unsurprisingly, Stuart Broad was named the Man of the Match for his outstanding seam bowling performance. Australia did win the last test at The Oval, but England won the series 3-2, with a mightily special performance from Broad. 

A fresh-faced Broad, who was once taken to the cleaners and was hit for 6 sixes in an over by Yuvraj Singh in a T20 World Cup, took that as a lesson and kept improving his game over the years. A test sensation, along with James Anderson, Broad is one of the greatest bowlers England has ever produced. Currently, with 479 test wickets to his name, Broad is the 7th highest wicket taker in the world and the 2nd highest wicket taker for England, sitting just behind Jimmy Anderson. And on August 6th,2015, Broad produced one of the most beautiful spells of fast bowling the world had ever laid their eyes upon.

You do not want to face Stuart Broad when he’s in that kind of mood.