Sunday at the Oval was supposed to be the final glorious farewell for Stuart Broad. However, the day ended on a bittersweet note, with his old rival David Warner standing strong before the rain came pouring down in the afternoon.
There was immense build-up leading to this moment. Broad must have expected a similar atmosphere when he announced his retirement after play on day three. As he warmed up to a montage of his greatest moments, England fans were hopeful that he could make an impact once again.
The stage was set, the fans had gathered, and people were sharing their favorite memories of Broad on social media. But instead, it was Australia who had the last laugh.
Nevertheless, for the first 10 minutes of play, it was a fitting end for the man who has played 167 Test matches and taken 602 wickets. Broad walked out to bat with his good friend and teammate James Anderson, receiving a guard of honor from the Australian team.
Although England’s innings lasted only nine minutes, it provided a glimpse of everything that cricket fans love. Broad finished his final Test innings unbeaten, hitting a six off his final ball. This made him only the second player to achieve this feat, following Wayne Daniel of the West Indies in 1984.
For Marcus Trescothick, former England opener turned batting coach, this was the perfect way for Broad to end his career, especially considering his past as an all-rounder.
The fans also celebrated Anderson, who was given a birthday tribute before displaying his trademark reverse sweep. Unfortunately, Anderson being given out lbw was the last wicket of the day. To the disappointment of England fans, it might be a fond farewell for Warner instead of the bowler who has claimed his wicket 17 times in the format.
Trescothick, however, believes that if there is one more fairy tale left, it would be Broad taking another five-wicket haul in the Ashes series. He has achieved this in every other home series against Australia, except for the current one.
As the rain fell, Warner was on 58 and Usman Khawaja on 69, forming a partnership that has provided a glimmer of hope for Australians. For Broad, who expressed his love for the Ashes in a press conference after announcing his retirement, this might be a bittersweet moment. Not only because of the rain, but also because Australia has found a way back into the game, despite needing to chase 384 runs for victory. As it has happened often in this series, the game remains in balance heading into day five.