“If there was one more fairytale left, it would be ideal.” These were the words uttered by England coach Marcus Trescothick as England faced off against Australia on the final day of the 2023 Ashes series. The question on everyone’s minds was whether Stuart Broad, England’s second-highest Test wicket-taker, could deliver a stunning performance and secure a series win for his team.
Day four was meant to be all about Broad, who had announced the previous evening that he would retire after this Test. The 37-year-old was given a guard of honour to start the day, but Australia’s opening batsmen, Usman Khawaja and David Warner, batted superbly and took the score to 135-0 in pursuit of a target of 384 before rain interrupted play.
Broad is no stranger to Ashes glory. He has taken more wickets against Australia than any other player in Test history. The question now was whether he had one more memorable performance left in him, reminiscent of his famous 8-15 spell in the 2015 Ashes at Trent Bridge.
Trescothick expressed his hope that Broad would produce a spectacular five-wicket haul in his final Test: “If there was one more fairytale left, it would be ideal if it was Stuart’s last five-fer. One to win or two to win and he runs in and gets his last five-fer… something like that would be brilliant wouldn’t it? We don’t quite see the fairytales that we want to see at times but it would be lovely to dream of it.”
Despite England’s hopes, former captain Michael Vaughan believed that Australia were the slight favorites going into the final day. England’s bowlers had been below par in the previous day’s play, struggling to make an impact on a slow and lifeless pitch. In contrast, Australia had shown resilience and were closing in on victory, needing just 249 runs to win.
Spin was a particular concern for England, with Moeen Ali struggling with his off-spin and part-timer Joe Root offering more threat. Vaughan doubted that Root would be able to bowl Australia out on the final day and praised the visitors for their ability to bounce back throughout the series.
The day began with Broad coming out to bat alongside his long-term bowling partner, James Anderson. It ended on a high note for Broad, who hit a six off the final delivery he faced in his career, showing his ability to make an impact even as a batsman.
Trescothick applauded Broad’s last-ball heroics, saying, “Most people’s [final ball] is when their stumps are knocked over or they’ve nicked one to slip or you’re bowling, but to think you could hit your last ball for six… We were all thinking about declaring at that point and bringing everyone in but good for him really.”
Overall, it had been a brilliant 24 hours for Broad, who received just reward for his long years of hard work and dedication. As his career came to an end, both teams and fans acknowledged his contribution to the game and bid him a fond farewell. The stage was set for an enthralling final day of the Ashes series, with both England and Australia hoping to create their own fairytale ending.