By Oli Burley
Last Updated: 05/08/20 2:33pm
Stuart Broad has been in electric form for England recently, passing 500 Test wickets in the process.
The seamer is a man renowned for staggering spells but even he will struggle to ever replicate his mind-blowing 8-15 at Trent Bridge during the 2015 Ashes, which happened exactly five years ago.
Broad’s burst, which featured that remarkable claw catch from Ben Stokes at slip to remove Adam Voges, was only 9.3 overs long but it utterly decimated Australia, who were skittled for 60.
Watch the seamer’s superb spell in the YouTube video above and read on to relive it through the eyes of skysports.com cricket editor, Oli Burley, who blogged a breathless passage of play…
‘So, what have I missed?’
Those were the immortal words directed at me from one anxious colleague – and huge England cricket fan – who had the misfortune to attend a lengthy meeting at Sky Studios on the morning of August 6, 2015.
“Pull up a chair,” I wish I’d been able to say, “and let me talk you through 18.3 overs of utter Ashes carnage, the like of which we’re never likely to see again”. In reality, my reply was somewhat – like Australia’s innings – short. The tourists had just been decimated by Stuart Broad, his 8-15 demolishing the Aussies in the most penetrative spell of bowling I’d ever witnessed live, and there was an ongoing blog plus any other number of articles to write.
Australia’s score of 60 (yes, just SIXTY) was “the sort of score you expect to see at the U9s on the village green” said Ian Botham memorably, prompting the only English cry of protest on the day as colts up and down the land took umbrage.
The bald stats even now seem barely credible – Broad needing just 19 balls to complete a five-wicket haul on his way to becoming the first bowler to take at least seven Test wickets before lunch. Even for a man well-versed in dazzling destruction, this was devastating damage.
The spell (briefly) took me back to the summer of 2012 when the country was abuzz with the Olympics.
The comms box chortled at the prospect of Mike Atherton covering archery at Lord’s, Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake set a new record for selfies in a media centre and Hashim Amla pushed the limits of human endurance with a marathon triple hundred as South Africa seized the Test mace.
Only a few months earlier, Broad had run rings around West Indies as his 7-72 in the first innings of the Lord’s Test had given England – still the best Test team in the world then, despite difficult tours against Pakistan in the UAE in and Sri Lanka – the perfect launchpad for the international season.
Another seven-for, this time against New Zealand at HQ, would follow the very next year before Old Trafford bore witness to a stunning 6-25 as Broad in partnership with James Anderson reduced India to 8-4.
Broad’s 8-15, though, took ‘unstoppable’ to a whole new level.
I recall the build-up to that day vividly – Bumble talking about making gooseberry vodka, England’s haphazard form (WLWLWLW) endlessly debated.
A new father for the first time (my son William being born on the second day of the Ashes series), I had largely failed to trouble the scorers playing for the Chairman’s XI during Worcester Park CC’s cricket week. I was wide-eyed in every sense and in need of a rejuvenating lift.
Boy, did Broad provide it. The Outlaw was already firmly in the media spotlight – ‘local leads attack in Anderson’s absence needing one wicket to reach 300 as England seek to regain Ashes’. Or something similar and far snappier.
Loitering near master-of-ceremonies Atherton at the toss, only later would we discover that Broad had initially been of the view that batting first might be the way to go despite moisture in the pitch and an even covering of green grass.
The clouds and an early shower had been replaced by sunshine as Broad got proceedings underway nearly five minutes late, following hearty applause in memory of Clive Rice, with a ball from around the wicket that Chris Rogers pushed into the covers.
A half-shout for lbw followed as Australia picked up four leg byes – and then it all kicked off to such an extent that for the first time ever in Ashes history, Extras (14) ended as top-scorer in an innings.
Broad’s milestone wicket started the rot as Rogers was well taken to his left at first slip by Cook, joining Anderson, Bob Willis and Fred Trueman in England’s 300-club.
Nor would Steve Smith see out the over, turned around by a crackerjack delivery to snick off to Joe Root at third slip and leave Australia on an unlikely 10-2 at the end of the first over.
In fact, Australia’s top four would face just 12 balls between them – Warner caught behind off Mark Wood before Shaun Marsh edged to Ian Bell at second slip, the scoreboard showing 15-4 and the away dressing room cooler than my untouched cup of tea.
The blog was typing, not writing, by this point – Jack Kerouac-style spontaneity required to keep pace but even he would have paused had he witnessed Ben Stokes’ sensational catch in the gully to remove Adam Voges.
For sheer athleticism it was right up there with Paul Collingwood’s stunner at backward point to remove Australia’s Matthew Hayden at Bristol in 2005.
Stokes moved to his right to take the ball one-handed behind him, grabbing it from the air just when he looked to have no chance. It was a moment of instinctive brilliance – hard to comprehend – that no-one could surely replicate?
Nevertheless, the very next morning Nasser had a go in a pre-play slip catching demonstration – and he very nearly pulled off a blinder having let a previous attempt slip out of his clutches.
Cue much mirth all round and another barracking from spectators and fellow pundits alike. Nas stormed off in high dudgeon, only partially pantomime.
Broad’s reaction to Stokes’ catch – his hands over his mouth in utter disbelief – spawned myriad copycat images around the globe under the moniker ‘Oh my Broad’.
Michael Clarke handed Broad his fifth scalp with a slash outside off-stump and Peter Nevill was despatched by Steven Finn, bowled by a fuller length delivery – a tactic impressed upon the bowling unit over dinner in the build-up to the Test by Bob Willis.
Root would later – once the Ashes were regained – don an Albert Einstein wig and imitate Willis’ mock-grumpiness on The Verdict, a comical moment that drew a typically stinging and humorous reply from England fanatic Bobby.
“We’re receiving reports of Aussies in trouble,” tweeted Nottinghamshire Police as Broad made light work of the tail – Australia bowled out before lunch for the first time since 1896 at Lord’s.
The highest stand in the innings had been 13 and England openers Alastair Cook and Adam Lyth were able to match it in three overs before lunch.