Stuart Broad instinctively raises his game against Australia – because the battle for the Ashes switches him on like nothing else.
He proved the point again in England’s 169-run victory in the first Test at Cardiff, where he took three of the first four wickets on Saturday as Australia faltered in their second innings.
It is in the blood, of course, for Broad, whose father Chris hit centuries in three consecutive Tests on England’s successful 1986/87 tour.
He was only months old back then, but soon began hearing what it is like to face Australia – and has since found out for himself in 18 Tests that it feels pretty good, especially when England win.
Broad has helped them do so in three series so far and is determined to add a fourth, after the disappointment and embarrassment of a 5-0 defeat down under two winters ago.
The rematch has started well, and will continue at Lord’s on Thursday with Broad out to press on from his career tally of 292 wickets towards 300.
That would make him one of only five Englishmen –including his team-mate James Anderson, the most prolific of all from this country – to reach the elite benchmark.
It is wickets against Australia that Broad likes best, though.
“I grew up on Ashes cricket. I like the battle of it, I suppose,” he said.
“I just enjoy it. The Aussies will always challenge you in different ways.”
Broad was an English rarity in that he did himself justice in Australia in 2013/14 – after riling the opposition in the preceding series here, by declining to walk following an apparent edge to slip via the wicketkeepeer in the Trent Bridge Test and then with superlative bowling to win the urn at Durham.
There is nothing the Australian crowd, at home or on tour, likes better than to make sure Broad knows what they think of him.
“They like to have a bit of banter with you, which maybe steels me up a bit and gets me into a battle,” he said.
“You always want to test yourself against the best, and they’re the best team around at the minute. It makes me tick.
“It switches you on. Every time you get a bit of a boo, you want to prove them wrong.”