MCG will be intimidating – Broad


Published: Saturday 7th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Stuart Broad has warned his young team-mates to expect the biggest game of their careers when England help open the World Cup against Australia next weekend.

Nine England players could possibly make their World Cup debuts in the white-hot atmosphere of an MCG full house, when the majority of a 90,000-strong crowd will be baying for a home win.

Broad knows more than most that there is little love lost from Australian fans when it comes to England and, despite the Valentine’s Day scheduling, he hardly expects that to change.

“England v Australia, MCG, start of a World Cup – it’s the sort of game will be one of the biggest games of our careers,” Broad said.

“It will be quite intimidating for everyone.”

Broad was painted as public enemy number one by Australia’s media at the start of England’s painful 5-0 Ashes humbling last winter and was then roundly booed by the crowds as he toured the country.

The 28-year-old took the jibes with good nature and, after enduring far less vitriol from over the fence during the recently completed Tri-Series, he suspects he might be better prepared for what awaits in Melbourne.

“I was lucky in one way that I went through it a bit last winter, but 90,000 at the MCG who will be 90 per cent Australia – it will be intimidating,” he said.

“But that should give you butterflies of excitement. You don’t get to play in front of those sorts of grounds all the time, so it should fill you with excitement and actually it will be around controlling that.

“Saturday will all be about controlling the emotion, not trying to hit your first ball for six. Just being in the stadium will be phenomenal. A chance to play in it will be breathtaking.

“Not many of the guys will have played in front of that many people and won’t again.”

Keeping emotions in check before the match could therefore be crucial and Broad pointed to high-profile examples from other sports – including the first-minute punch that earned Wigan prop Ben Flower a six-month ban in last year’s Super League Grand Final – as cautionary tales.

“I watch Premier League games and you sometimes see players looking too relaxed in tunnels,” he said.

“Remember when Spurs got pumped at Anfield and they were leaning against the wall in the tunnel. It is quite a fine balance to make.

“If they are too pumped, they go in and make a high tackle in the first minute, and get sent off. There was that famous rugby league one – he just whacked him. It’s a fine balance.

“In cricket, one ball and you can be out. At least as a bowler, you can bowl it to second slip and then have another go. As a batter, it is vital.”

Broad believes even apparently small details are important, including the music played in the dressing-room beforehand – a role team physiotherapist, and Bob Marley fan, Mark Saxby is set to handle during the World Cup.

“Mark Saxby takes it on – so it could be relaxed!” Broad said.

“What you look for in the mornings – you don’t want a lot of quiet. You want music on in the changing room, that sort of thing.

“What we learned from the 2006 Ashes tour, apparently that Brisbane Test when it all went wrong, it was very quiet, nobody was saying anything.

“That’s where you look to your senior players to relax people, play your natural game.”

Broad admits, however, that any nerves would be best settled by claiming some early wins in a tournament that sees England travel across the Tasman Sea to play the other World Cup co-hosts New Zealand after their Australia opener.

It is not the most accommodating of starts, but, after reaching the Tri-Series final, Broad believes England can take points from those early games.

“There’s an inner confidence in this group that something good could happen,” he said.

“I think everyone individually has done something on this trip. We just need a couple of batters to get together and get really flowing and the bowlers to have their day.

“It’s about peaking at the right time, but we need to get some wins in early and that will free us up as well.”

Published: Saturday 7th February 2015 by The News Editor

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