Frustrated Stuart Broad blames costly no-ball on ‘pushing a little bit too hard’

Frustrated Stuart Broad blames costly no-ball on ‘pushing a little bit too hard’

Stuart Broad blamed the occasion of the Ashes and bowling on a “soulless” pitch for a costly no-ball as England were punished for a series of errors by Australia in the first Test.

Broad sent Edgbaston into raptures by snaring old rival David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne, the top-ranked Test batter, in the space of two deliveries as Australia lurched to 67 for three on day two.

Usman Khawaja was the calm head the tourists needed, anchoring Australia’s innings with his first ton in England before he was bowled on 112 by Broad, only for replays to show the seamer had overstepped.

It was one of 13 no-balls from England – Broad sent down half a dozen – while Jonny Bairstow fluffed a stumping chance off Cameron Green before missing a regulation catch off Alex Carey, who went to stumps unbeaten on 52 out of Australia’s 311 for five, with Khawaja set to resume on 126 not out on Sunday.

Stuart Broad oversteps
Stuart Broad overstepped when bowling Usman Khawaja (Mike Egerton/PA)

Australia are 82 runs behind England but while Broad admitted irritation at his mistake, he suggested straining for something extra on a surface offering little for the bowlers could have been a factor.

“It’s really frustrating,” he told the BBC’s Test Match Special. “I’m not really a big no-ball bowler. I have probably bowled more today than in a Test match day before. There’s no excuse.

“But it is the first innings of an Ashes Test match, you have some big emotions there so you are trying to gain energy from the surface and maybe pushing a little bit too hard. It is something to be aware of.

“It is a very slow, low surface that zaps the energy out of the ball. It is pretty characterless so far, pretty soulless, but you can only judge a surface towards the end of the match and see how it develops.”

Ben Stokes ordered “flat, fast wickets” ahead of the LV= Insurance series but Broad believes tracks such as the one they have encountered in Birmingham are anathema to how England want to play cricket.

“It is certainly one of the slowest pitches I can remember bowling on in England,” Broad added.

“It has been hard work for the seamers and ultimately we are looking to entertain, have fun and get the crowd jumping and it is quite a difficult pitch to get play and misses on and nicks to slip on. Hopefully it is not a trend for the whole series.”

Had Bairstow held on after part-timer Joe Root had drawn the outside edge of Carey or Broad not overstepped when bowling Khawaja through the gate, England would have been into Australia’s bowlers.

But Broad believes England are still in a “really positive place” while assistant coach Paul Collingwood still feels the hosts are in the driving seat, pointing out how they took 20 wickets in all three Tests against Pakistan at the back end of last year on similarly lifeless pitches.

“We were probably half an inch away from taking all their wickets,” Collingwood said. “We weren’t far away but we’re still in a magnificent position in this game. That wicket isn’t going to get any better as it goes on.

Harry Brook sent down three overs on Saturday (Mike Egerton/PA)
Harry Brook sent down three overs on Saturday (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We’ve come up against some slow pitches in places like Pakistan and found a way to take 20 wickets, I think this bowling unit taking 20 wickets on all surfaces has been a strength of this team.”

Having boldly declared on 393 for eight on Friday, Stokes threw another curve ball on Saturday when he brought on the medium pace of Harry Brook after Broad and James Anderson’s initial foray.

The Yorkshireman sent down just one over and then two more later in the day before the second new ball was taken, conceding just five runs and even delivering a maiden to Khawaja.

“It was Ben’s plan at the time,” Collingwood added. “It just shows how maverick the team can be at certain times. Harry said if he gets a newer ball he reckons he can take four or five wickets, but I’m not too sure he’s getting a newer ball!”