Stuart Broad is refusing to rise to Australia opener David Warner’s declaration of “war” ahead of this winter’s Ashes.
Warner said earlier this month he would “dig deep to get some hatred” for the England team ahead of the series, adding: “As soon as you step on that line it’s war.”
Like Warner, Nottinghamshire’s Broad is familiar with the hostilities of the old rivalry but as England prepare to head Down Under, he is keeping calm.
“I don’t have to hate them,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “It’s a game of cricket, not war.”
The Australian public, urged on by coach Darren Lehmann, heckled Broad throughout the 2013-14 series over his failure to walk for a clear nick in the preceding summer’s rubber – during which Warner was the designated villain after throwing a pre-series punch at England’s Joe Root.
Broad said: “Actually I loved that trip, I liked the pantomime villain stuff. As a cricketer it was as close as you get to being a footballer playing away from home. (Lehmann) needed something to unite the public and media behind the Australian side and he chose me.”
It was indeed football that provided Broad’s inspiration on that tour as he drew on another fierce rivalry – former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira’s animosity with Manchester United counterpart Roy Keane and manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Because I knew it was coming, I prepared for it,” said Broad. “I read Alex Ferguson’s book about how he’d once told Patrick Vieira, who’d had dog’s abuse from the Old Trafford crowd, they wouldn’t be abusing you if they didn’t respect you.
“Whether Aussies meant it that way, that’s how I decided to take it: they were only doing it because they were scared of me.”
Australia captain Steve Smith has targeted England’s inexperienced batting line-up this time around, with Mark Stoneman, James Vince and Dawid Malan in line to feature in the top five while doubt surrounds the participation of all-rounder Ben Stokes for disciplinary reasons.
But Broad said: “When you go to Australia you have to have a genuine belief in your team that you can win. And I have that. I believe we can win.
“The (Andrew) Strauss-led side that got to number one in 2011 was the most efficient, disciplined group I’ve ever played with, but this team now is the most exciting.
“Moeen (Ali), Jonny (Bairstow), Stokesie: you don’t know what will happen. But something will.
“True, we’re not as consistent. But we can win games out of nowhere.”