Bat or bust: Broad wants big runs from batters in Ashes
Veteran quick says bowling speeds are "irrelevant" in Australia if the batters fail to pile on the runs
30 August 2020, 11:45 AM AEST
Stuart Broad says England's batters need to make big runs if they want to win the Ashes in Australia and curtail the output of run machine Steve Smith in 2021-22.
Broad, who finished England's six-Test summer against West Indies and Pakistan with 29 wickets at 13.41, has dismissed suggestions England must field fast bowlers capable of hitting speeds of 90mph (145kph) if they are to have success in Australia.
What is of top priority, says Broad, is England's batters making big individual scores and huge team totals like they did the last time they won on Australian soil in 2010-11, when they plundered the hosts' bowlers on the way to a drought-breaking 3-1 series win.
While England do possess express fast bowlers in Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, Broad says bowling speeds are "irrelevant" if the batters do not stand up.
"If you want to know what it takes to win Test matches in Australia, it's not whether you have someone who can get up to 95mph," Broad wrote in his column for the Mail on Sunday.
"Glenn McGrath was still pretty useful coming up to his 37th birthday and bowling at 80mph when his team had 500 runs on the board.
"We should take the focus off which bowlers are going to be selected for that series because it's an irrelevant conversation if you're going to be bowled out for 200. It’s equally irrelevant if you’re bowled out for 300. You need to be reaching the 400s.
"Look back at when England last won there in 2010-11: Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen all got big hundreds, scores of 150-plus. Ian Bell, Andrew Strauss and Matt Prior got hundreds, too.
"In all three wins, the team batted just once. Jimmy (Anderson), Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett bowled in the mid-80s and England made big totals."
In that 2010-11 series, England posted first-innings totals of 5-620dec, 513 and 644 in their three wins, while Cook amassed 766 runs in seven innings with three centuries.
Watching Cook pile on those runs in three of the five Ashes Tests was a young Steve Smith, who was far from the No.1 Test batter he is today.
Smith was the difference in the 2019 Ashes – his 774 runs earnt him the Compton-Miller Medal as the player of the series as Australia retained the Ashes on English soil for the first time since 2001.
And in the 2017-18 Ashes, Smith averaged 137.40 at home as the hosts racked up big first-innings totals to win 4-0.
While Smith is imperious in Australia, where he averages 71, Broad wants to see how well he goes after he has spent days in the field with a huge opposition total looming on the scoreboard.
"Steve Smith has batted against 90mph bowling throughout a career in which he averages the best part of 63," Broad said.
"But what he hasn't done often is go out to bat having been fielding for two days and the opposition having a huge score on the board.
"We need that mindset of keeping the opposition out there until the second evening."
While the next Ashes series might be 15 months away, Broad has been encouraged by the way England's batters performed inside the bio-secure bubble this northern summer.
Opener Dom Sibley dug in for a 374-ball 120 in second Test against the Windies, Zak Crawley scored a mammoth maiden Test century of 267 against Pakistan and Jos Buttler made significant contributions down the order, capped off with 152 in Southampton in the last Test.
"With Joe Root, Ollie Pope and Ben Stokes to factor in, we want to be in a position when we get to that tour where the Australians are thinking 'these boys can score runs'," Broad said.
"Things are looking positive."