Stuart Broad: Last-ball wicket to win Ashes Test was 'pretty cool'

Stuart Broad walks onto the field of play for the final day of his Test career Getty Images

There aren't many fairytale finishes in elite-level sport, but Stuart Broad came closer than most players ever could. In claiming Australia's final two wickets at the Kia Oval, Broad put his personal seal on a thrilling fifth Test, closing out a series-squaring 49-run victory, and bowing out on a high with a final tally of 604 wickets at 27.68 in his remarkable 167-Test career.

"It was absolutely wonderful," Broad told Sky Sports at the close. "The crowd were unbelievable. It was so loud and we just jumped on the back of that. To contribute to the team with two wickets is very special. When you make that decision you wonder what your last ball will be so to take a wicket to win an Ashes Test match is pretty cool."

Broad's decision to retire was announced at the close of play on day three, at which point England led by a hefty 377 runs and appeared nailed on to seal victory in the remaining two days. As things turned out, however, Usman Khawaja and David Warner bit a large chunk out of that with an unbeaten century stand on a truncated fourth day, and it wasn't until Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali came together in a crucial fifth-wicket alliance on the final afternoon that England's path to victory was reopened.

"I thought Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali set the tone absolutely unbelievably," Broad added. "Woakesy picked up a couple of wickets, particularly Steve Smith, who has just been a wonderful player to play against all these years. Once we got a couple we really started to believe."

Moeen bowled 23 overs for his three wickets, despite being hampered with a groin strain sustained while batting on the first day. And afterwards, he too confirmed that this Test would be his last, joking that "if Stokesy messages me again I'm going to delete it," after the WhatsApp exchange that triggered his return to the side after a two-year absence.

"A special mention to Moeen, he's not officially announced he's moving on, but we've played a lot together and he's been such a special friend," Broad added. "To put that performance in to help England win an Ashes Test match will be a dream come true for him."

England's victory was not without controversy, following a ball-change late on day four that offered significantly more bounce and movement than the 40-over-old original that it replaced. But with Australia's ninth-wicket pair, Alex Carey and Todd Murphy, whittling the requirement down into the 50s, it took one last act of Broad black magic to break the contest open again. Having successfully swapped the bails in the first innings, moments before Marnus Labuschagne snicked off to Mark Wood, he repeated the trick at the non-striker's end, then immediately found Murphy's edge to dismiss him for 18.

The fact that England persevered with the same ball that had claimed all ten wickets was, Broad admitted, a lesson that they had learned from their crucial two-wicket loss in the series opener at Edgbaston.

"I don't have many regrets with cricket," he added. "I wouldn't have taken the second new ball at Edgbaston. Throughout the series the new ball has been the hardest time to bowl. We found it hard to create changes after that.

"If I could turn back the clock for that final hour I'd have maybe stayed with the old ball, stayed heavy and short and see if they'd made a mistake. I had blood in my socks, sweat, and I knew the team had put their heart and soul into it. When you lose to a great team like that, but you know you've done everything like that, you've got to hold your head high."

On his remarkable longevity, maintaining his standards over a 17-year England career, and even reaching a new peak of performance in his final three post-Covid years, Broad put that down to his relentless curiosity, and desire to keep learning new tricks - not least his angle into left-handers from round the wicket, with contributed significantly to his tally of 17 dismissals against Warner.

"I like detail, data and I like to research things," he said. "I almost need facts and data for me to believe something. That was something that was very evident when I decided to come round the wicket in 2015 and really worked on bowling to left-handers around the wicket. My data wasn't very good so I had to make a change. I did a lot of research into Davey Warner because I found him difficult to bowl at and to try and find a way to dismiss him.

"In Test cricket it is about knowing what your weaknesses are but finding your exact strengths and sticking to them so strongly and not getting knocked away. Test cricket and the whole environment, there's a lot of things trying to knock you off the straight road, but if you can stay on it you'll have a lot of success coming your way. I've found that a lot more in the last 10 years and I've focused solely on what my super strengths are and I've stuck to them in this series."

To complete a special personal occasion, Broad even hit his final ball for six - a feat last achieved by West Indies' Wayne Daniel in 1984. "The six was the only ball I've middled all year! I was quite happy that went for six."