Stuart Broad becomes the architect of the early English dominance.
Australia’s top-order batsman came under attack on Friday after they failed to fire against England on the opening day of the Ashes series at the Gabba, with “pantomime villain” Stuart Broad doing the damage.
The home side were teetering at 132 for six at one stage only to be salvaged by a battling rearguard effort from Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson, who helped take the score to a more respectable 273-8 at close of play.
Cricket writers were harsh in their verdict on the team’s top batsmen, while acknowledging Broad had the last laugh, taking five wickets after being targeted as the villain by a local Brisbane newspaper and the Gabba crowd.
“The continuing incompetence of Australia’s batting cannot be camouflaged by rearguard actions,” The Daily Telegraph’s Malcolm Conn said.
“Australia’s specialist batsmen were shamed by Stuart Broad (5-65), who revelled in the role of pantomime villain, exploiting sharp bounce and movement from a lively Gabba pitch.”
Conn said “all the distress” of this year’s failed Ashes campaign in England came flooding back as Australia crumbled, with nobody in the top six managing to pass 50.
The Australian’s Peter Lalor agreed:” A tail can wag the dog but no matter how many runs the wicketkeeper and bowlers contributed to Australia’s fightback, the way the top order toppled bodes badly for the Ashes series.
“At first exposure to match conditions, the brave talk after the (Australian) winter has proved hollow, the dawns false and the promises empty.”
Fairfax Media’s Chloe Saltau said little appeared to have changed in Australian cricket since the 3-0 series defeat in England in July-August.
“Australia held a national batting forum during the break between Ashes series, complete with brainstorming sessions and Powerpoint presentations designed to get to the bottom of the batting woes, but the first day of the new series showed little has changed since the failed campaign in England,” Saltau wrote.
Brisbane’s Courier-Mail newspaper’s stated intention of not mentioning Broad’s name during the Test backfired spectacularly as the England quick ran amok.
The Australian’s Wayne Smith said the decision was shown to be “laughably ridiculous”.
“Broad, as anyone with the faintest knowledge of the man — or even of basic human psychology — could have told the newspaper, was never going to be wished or willed into obscurity,” Smith said.
“The more Broad’s Australian critics tried to turn their backs on him over his alleged crime in not walking in the Trent Bridge Test, the more in their faces he would become.
“The more they tried to ignore him, the more irresistible he would make himself. Certainly few of the Australian batsmen were able to resist him yesterday, most especially Michael Clarke.”
Fairfax Media columnist Greg Baum added: “Stuart Broad didn’t walk again at the Gabba, not as such. He strode, and ran, and sprinted, and leapt, and skipped a little, and sometimes strutted, and walked all over the psyche of Australia – the cricket team and the nation.”