The perfect screenplay for an England great’s departure included wind-up antics, seizing the occasion, and taking wickets to win the final Test.
In his 167th and final Test, Stuart Broad developed a new tactic to disarm opponents while continuing to Aussie-bait. When Australia threatened to pull off an audacious heist to win the series and England started to grow a touch desperate, Broad once again took the role of choreographer and switched the bails of Australia’s non-striking batter.
In his 38th year, Broad has developed a curious ruse. This action is not based on any sporting rationale; rather, it aims to shift the luck. “I thought switching the bails was an Aussie thing, but must admit I might have made that up,” he admitted.
When spinner Nathan Lyon switched the bails at the non-striker’s end during the 62nd over of the fourth Test, with Joe Root cruising along on 68, it was a mind trick used by the Australians throughout the 2019 Ashes series. Three runs later, Root was gone after Josh Hazlewood had trapped him at the wicket. However, not every member of the Australian team is as knowledgeable about it.
Australian head coach Justin Langer remarked, “I have never heard of switching the bails as a lucky charm. “That’s a strange one. As a superstition, I used to touch the bails in between overs.
It was a ridiculous situation, but it fit Broad’s career perfectly—his theatrical talents have been essential to his brilliant bowling.
In shock, his family embraced him in a box at the Oval. They included his mother Carole, father Chris, an Ashes hero for England, sister Gemma, a former commentator for the team, and his fiancée Mollie King, a former pop singer who is now a radio DJ and the mother of their newborn. Maybe they had trouble believing what they saw. This situation may have just seemed preordained, as it has for everyone who has followed Broad’s career.