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How Broad got the better of Warner in the Ashes

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David_Warner_Stuart_Broad_England_Australia_Ashes_CricketThe very first ball that Stuart Broad bowled to David Warner in the Ashes 2019 was sprayed down the leg side from round the wicket. The opener was beaten while trying to flick it away. Replays suggested that the ball had nicked his bottom edge en route to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, who went up in a vociferous appeal. Broad, however, was not interested and Warner survived.

That was the only sigh of relief that Warner has been afforded in this Ashes series thus far. That delivery was also a prelude of things to come over the rest of the Tests, with Broad consistently bowling round the wicket to the Australian, targeting his stumps and his edge whilst aiming to reduce his scoring options.

Before the series got underway, the Englishman had come out second best against Warner in every tussle. He got him out five times in 18 games but more importantly, Warner averaged over 65 against him. In 2015, Broad had not been able to take his wicket even once, aiming at Warner’s outside edge, hoping that he would get out driving. Bowling predominantly over the wicket to him then, Broad played into Warner’s strengths by only getting the slips into play. What this meant was that any drop or width in length was played through the covers or through midwicket by Warner, and with the Australian pitches offering good bounce, the batsman was able to attack Broad’s lines.

How Broad forced Warner to go back to the drawing board

Entering the Ashes in fiery form–Warner had claimed the Orange Cap in the IPL and did his bit in the World Cup as well–the left-hander had marked his return to cricket after a year’s ban with aplomb. But all it took was eight innings to go from a monstrous freak who could spit out venom with the willow to a shriveled struggler unable to get his feet, bat or mind around the fireballs from Broad.

It is the bowler who deserves all the credit here. With the Dukes ball, Broad started attacking the stumps more from round the wicket, bringing the ball into Warner at the off-stump, off the seam from a fuller length. Hence, if the ball jagged back in, the batsman could be either LBW or bowled, and if the ball held its line, an edge was still very much on the cards. Thus, all dismissal modes were in play, and that is what Broad capitalized on.

He got Warner LBW off a full length ball that would have crashed onto the middle stump at Edgbaston in the first innings. The second innings saw the Australian edge one behind to the keeper as it straightened after coming in from an angle, while at Lord’s a seam-up delivery uprooted his stumps. Three contrasting dismissals in as many innings all from a similar angle. He went on to dismiss him three more times in the next five innings, all for a duck - an LBW as the ball jagged in sharply onto Warner at Leeds; caught behind off a delivery with sharp movement outside off that forced the opener into two minds at Manchester; and an LBW off an in-swinger that cut back into him in the second innings at Old Trafford.

All Warner could afford was a smile as he walked back to the pavilion after that last dismissal; acknowledging Broad’s efforts and admitting that he has had the better of him.

“Up until this series, Warner has had the better of me, really," Broad admitted. "I'd always focused on his outside edge thinking running the ball across him would bring in the slips.

"I had a change of mindset in this series a little bit to try and bring the stumps into play more to him. I'm looking to nip it back onto off-stump. Then, if it holds its line, it brings the outside edge into play and that actually limits the scoring options slightly."

Along with bowling round the wicket, Broad has been bowling fuller against a batsman who is strong against the short ball. Only 11% of his deliveries have been pitched more than 8 metres from the batsman’s stumps, which has ensured that Warner drives more than ever. With the batsman batting 40cm further out of his crease in the series to counter the lateral movement of the ball, Warner now has less time to judge the movement, which has often left him in two minds.

It has also affected the Aussie’s ability to attack deliveries. By batting down the track, his ability to punish width has been restricted, with Warner only attacking 11% of the balls he has faced in the Ashes 2019, down from the 30% he managed four years ago. Ricky Ponting believes that the only way for Warner to get the better of Broad will be to bat further from the crease and play his natural game.

"I've said a few things to him about how I thought he could line up and try and play but it's a different thing to work on that at training and have the courage to go out and try and do that in a Test match," Ponting said.

"He changed things up at Headingley, he changed his guard a couple of times, moved over on off-stump, moved outside his crease a couple of times to try and get into Broad's line and length a little bit more. It was a decent ball at Manchester (in the first innings). It was one of those ones that we've been expecting – the ball angling in and pitching and leaving him. When you see Davey at his best he's not really even thinking about leaving those, he's trying to stand up on top of the bounce and hit that through the covers."

From averaging 65 against Broad initially, Warner now has seen his career average against the Englishman drop to 32.36. Though England are on the verge of losing the series after having already lost the urn, they can take heart from the fact that in at least one rivalry, they had the edge.



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