Stuart Broad set for Sydney return amid Ashes frustration for England bowler

Stuart Broad looks poised to return for the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney on Wednesday after recently spelling out his frustration during a failed tour by England in which he has featured just once.

The 35-year-old is being lined up to replace Ollie Robinson as England attempt to salvage pride in a series they trail 3-0. Joe Root, who will lead the Test team for a record 60th time, said on Monday the manner of the defeats by Australia “hurt deeply”.

Broad missed out on selection for the first Test at the Gabba and then the third match at the MCG, before writing in his recent Mail on Sunday column that he “won’t get a better chance to take wickets” than on the two seamer-friendly pitches that were prepared.

Eyebrows have certainly been raised in Australia over the strategic deployment of Broad during the series, not least in Brisbane for an instant bowl at David Warner, the opener he dominated during the 2019 Ashes. Steve Smith, fortunate to survive his first two balls from Broad during the second innings at Adelaide, is among them.

“We have been surprised, there has probably been two wickets that would have suited him well,” Smith said. “He bowled well in Adelaide and he’s always been a good contest for me. He’s got me out a few times, I’ve scored runs off him. I think it’s been a decent battle. Him and Jimmy [Anderson] together have been world-class performers for a long time. Maybe we’ll see them together this week.”

Broad’s advancing years naturally bring his Test future into sharp focus – similarly Anderson, older than his long-standing new-ball partner albeit still a first-choice pick on this tour. The latter bowler missed out at the Gabba himself amid caution over the 39‑year‑old’s fitness after a rain‑interrupted buildup and calf niggle upon arrival in Australia.

While Broad has said he will not make any “emotional decisions” about the continuation of a career of 150 caps and 526 wickets until after the conclusion of the tour, Anderson wrote in the Daily Telegraph “I have no intention of finishing” and added “from speaking to Stuart Broad, it is clear he definitely has not had enough yet either”.

On Monday Root declined to confirm Broad’s return for Robinson and, when asked about the former’s future, the captain replied: “All I’d say is from Stuart’s point of view is when he gets his opportunity he’s going to look to take it. He’s someone who always try to prove everybody wrong. When he’s missed out in the past he’s done that extremely well.”

Asked about recent support from teammates regarding his own captaincy, including the only viable replacement in Ben Stokes, Root said: “Obviously that’s nice to hear. I’m very passionate about getting the opportunity to play for England. Then to captain England as well is a huge honour for me.

“All I ever want to do is try to get the best out of the group, to see us perform and play at a level everyone back home is proud of.

“It’s hurt me deeply that we’ve not managed to do that on this trip and I’m desperate for us to put in those performances. I really care about the role and it would be nice to finish this tour off in a much better way.”