Stuart Broad believes England will carry their new-found optimism into the key stages of their 277-run chase after Joe Root’s unbeaten 77 and Ben Stokes’ streaky but crucial half-century had taken the fight to New Zealand on an absorbing third day of the first LV= Insurance Test at Lord’s.
Broad’s dismissal of New Zealand’s final six wickets for 49 runs in 12.3 overs shifted the momentum in the morning session. The first three came in a row in his third over of the day, including the run-out of Colin de Grandhomme, as England overcame a stumbling start to restrict New Zealand to 285.
Broad admitted that his work in this match could still be far from done as Root and Ben Foakes put on an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 57 to reduce England’s final-day target to 61 with five wickets remaining.
“It’s been a really pleasant Test match,” he added. “It’s been really thrilling and hard to tell what’s going to happen hour by hour.” “It’s exciting to return knowing that any team has a chance to win.
“‘It’s a big hour,’ you say all the time in Test cricket, and I feel like we’ve said it every hour here. The hour with Rooty and Foakesy before the new ball will be vital in attempting to keep the runs as low as possible.
“We’ve had to absorb pressure at times, but we need to have a very optimistic outlook heading into the new ball. After a touch of luck with the no-ball, the manner Rooty and Stokesy performed demonstrated how this team wants to go about it.”
Broad’s exuberant showing was typical of the game-changing displays that he has made his calling card over the years, and after Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell had reversed the course of the game with a 195-run fifth-wicket partnership, he confessed that it had come at a key time for the club.
He described it as “massive.” “We were a little disappointed yesterday afternoon because they had performed admirably during their runs. Because the Test match was on the line, we knew we had to strike with the new ball. It’ll be a different game if New Zealand gets 340-350 points. I loved the feeling of energising the audience and boosting the stadium’s excitement. The players, as well as the audience, responded admirably.”
Broad, in his 153rd Test, has faced almost every situation the game can throw at him, and now that the Covid restrictions have been relaxed, he said he’s looking forward to taking his mind off the game – and his likely role with the bat – by celebrating his fiancée’s birthday.
“Gone are the days when you could unwind with 20 beers. That was a ploy my father [former England opener Chris] used. I believe it is critical for all of us to focus on something other than the game tonight.
“Molly’s birthday falls on this day. Molly, have a wonderful birthday. So we’re going out to dinner with a couple of her friends, which should be fun, and then I’ll think about [the match] when I go to the stadium tomorrow and work on stuff in the nets.
“Having throwdowns is pointless if I’m not focusing on how I want to play in the middle,” he added. “Obviously, my situation will change depending on whether I come in for the first ball or the 10-15th over, but we need runs. It’s pointless to block and hope for a draw. It’s runs that we require.”
Whatever happens, Broad knows that by heading out to entertain, England has already accomplished one of their key goals for the game.
He stated, “A win would be terrific; it would finish off a fantastic Test match.” “But I don’t think everybody who has come to see this game over the last three days has been disappointed.
“It had a little bit of everything in it. It’s up to us as a bunch of players to do everything we can to cross the finish line, which would be fantastic, but if that doesn’t happen, we’ll stand up to the plate in Nottingham.
“But I have a fantastic feeling about tomorrow. Joe Root is one of England’s best ever batters, and I felt Foakesy settled in wonderfully, and then it’ll be up to the lower order to chase down these runs, so it’s shaping up to be a fantastic morning.”