England pacer Stuart Broad’s hostile spell coupled with their own blunder of leaving out off-spinner Nathan Hauritz cost Australia the decisive fifth Ashes Test, reckons spin legend Shane Warne.
Broad wrecked havoc with his five-wicket haul and led Australia’s collapse in the fifth Test. Warne said Broad’s spell was similar to all-rounder Andrew Flintoff’s exploits in the Lord’s Test, which England had won.
“After all the hype, I think the final match was decided by one spell, from Stuart Broad after lunch on Friday. In fact, I’d say the series has boiled down to two spells, with Broad following Andrew Flintoff’s great effort at Lord’s,” Warne wrote in his column for The Times.
Praising Broad for his consistent line and length, Warne said the youngster showed discipline in his bowling.
“The good thing was the way he concentrated on line and length, which is what you want from that third-seamer role. Let’s face it, when the groundsman puts in those three stumps they give you a clue where to bowl,” he wrote.
Warne said Australia committed a huge mistake by leaving out Hauritz.
“There is bound to be a lot more talk about why Australia did not choose Nathan Hauritz. I think this time Australia simply misread the pitch. They should have known about the history of the Oval and the way the surfaces usually pan out - hard and flat at the start, but turning sometimes quite sharply by the end.
“I am sure that after an hour’s play on Thursday, if not earlier, Ricky would have been thinking to himself at slip: ‘I could have used Hauritz here.’ I’ve said all along that Hauritz and Graeme Swann are pretty similar as bowlers, and we saw how successful Swann was with his eight wickets in the match,” Warne wrote.
The former leg-spinner said Ponting and Nielsen will have a tough time explaining Haurtiz’s exclusion.
“I do not know who had the final say on selection, whether it was the selectors themselves, or Ricky, or what degree of input came from Tim Nielsen, the coach. I am sure that questions will be asked over the coming days. We all make mistakes and somebody, will have to take the blame.”
Warne, however, insisted that all was not lost and there were a few positives to be taken.
“From an Australia point of view it is hard to think of positives in a lost Test that results in the Ashes changing hands. But I was delighted to see Mike Hussey dig in on Sunday and show his character with a wonderful innings,” Warne said.
Warne also paid tribute to England’s inspirational all-rounder Flintoff. “It was also a great result for Freddie Flintoff and I was pleased with the reception he got from the crowd at the end. He’s been a real hero and I know he has the greatest respect of the Australia players. Winning the Ashes for a second time is a dream way to end your Test career.”