Stuart Broad instinctively raises his game against Australia – 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 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.
The rematch has started well for England, 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.
“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 by declining to walk following an apparent edge to slip via the wicketkeepeer and then with superlative bowling to win the urn.
There is nothing the Australian crowd, at home or on tour, likes better than to make sure Broad knows what they think of him – and he seems to appreciate their interest.
“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.”
Broad senses too, albeit after just the opening match of five, that Australia are the ones with questions to answer.
Their linchpin pace bowler Ryan Harris succumbed to a career-ending injury before the series even began – while left-armer Mitchell Starc hurt his ankle at Cardiff and is no certainty to be fit in time for Lord’s.
“You never want to see a fellow professional being injured … but there are certainly questions being asked about their team,” Broad added.
“A month ago you would have flipped that around – there were questions about our team and not so much about Australia.
“That is credit to how we have played.”
England still have plenty to prove too, though – a fact not lost on Broad, who acknowledges their habit this year of failing to turn a series lead into victory against West Indies and then New Zealand.
“This group of players won in the Caribbean (and) lost the next one, then won at Lord’s and lost at Headingley.
“We’ve got a huge amount of motivation to put those results right.”