Rain Halts Australia's Progress As Broad Ends Batting Career With A Six

Stuart Broad will retire at the end of this Ashes series
17:48, 30 Jul 2023

The afternoon rain at the Oval put a stop to Australia’s impressive progress, as they finished on 135 without loss, chasing a total of 384 for the win. In truth it looked like the weather had done Englnd’s toiling bowlers a favour, as openers Usman Khawaja and David Warner made a huge indent into their lead. 

It was a day all about one man however, as Stuart Broad announced his retirement for cricket. The legendary England bowler was given a guard of honour by Australia as he came out to bat in the morning session, and his long-serving teammate Jimmy Anderson was right by his side. On his 41st birthday, the Aussies even tried to tempt him into retirement by pushing him through the guard of honour, to which he politely refused with a smile. 

Those two have been the backbone of England’s attack for almost two decades, and Broad is going out right at the top. He’s still England’s most dangerous fast bowler and still the ones the Aussies fear - so going out after an epic Ashes series feels a little premature. But he has his reasons. 

"I've been thinking about it for the last few weeks but England v Australia has always been the pinnacle for me. I've loved the battles I've had with Australia. I've got a love affair with Ashes cricket and I think I wanted my last bat and bowl to be in Ashes cricket."

His last bat in cricket turned out to be a heroic one. With his last ever runs in Test cricket, he launched a ball into the crowd for a six - to become only the second man in history to end his batting career with a maximum. That was before Anderson was out LBW, and England held a healthy lead. 

Broad will have dreamt of how his final England match would finish last night. He hit that six with a smile, and almost got the perfect start with the opening ball as his old rival Warner escaped after an inside edge. From that point though, it was tough going, not just for Broad but for the entire England attack. 

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Anderson plugged away to no avail, and Ben Stokes’ spin options were limited as Moeen Ali struggled with his injury. Having both made half centuries, Australia’s openers were brimming with confidence - even if they were still batting at a relatively cautious pace. 

The overcast conditions didn’t help England and when the rain did come, it was somewhat of a relief. They weren’t close to a breakthrough, and after the highs of yesterday, perhaps this was a reality check on what is clearly a decent pitch to bat on. 

Australia will be delighted with the day’s play, but the weather doesn’t look kind heading into Monday. Infuriatingly, it looks like we could have another wash out, just as this game is completely in the balance. Broad’s career ending sat in the pavilion would be a sad end to what has been the most fantastic career. Let’s hope he can get out on the grass and give us the finish we all want to see. 

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