Niggle and verbals during the first Ashes Test is a reminder of why I love the gift of the Gabba

  • England paceman has enjoyed the banter with the crowd and on the pitch
  • Steve Smith did not make a mistake and delivered a captain's performance?
  • Nathan Lyon was out of order for?his pre-match comments about Matt Prior

I have loved every minute of my return to the Gabba, where I could barely hear myself think four years ago because everyone was calling me names!?

The boos this time have been nowhere near as bad but there has still been a bit of niggle during this first Test, with the crowd getting stuck in and the verbals flying around on the pitch.

I've always loved the Ashes battle and these past few days have been a reminder of exactly why.

Stuart Broad takes a catch to dismiss Mitchell Starc off his own bowling on day two of first Test

Stuart Broad takes a catch to dismiss Mitchell Starc off his own bowling on day two of first Test

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Pitch imperfect

In another way it has not been a very Gabba-like Test at all. You spend months preparing for the length you're going to bowl here — 6.1 metres from the bat if you want to find the edge, apparently — then the pitch behaves nothing like you were expecting.

It has been slower than we thought, probably because the bad weather around Queensland hasn't helped preparation, but that's not a complaint. To bowl Australia out at home for 328 in the first innings was a really good result.

But it has meant that, once the ball is 20 overs old, the fielders behind square become almost redundant. Traditionally, the Gabba has been all about nicks to the cordon but we've had to bowl a lot of cutters — like the one I got Shaun Marsh with on Saturday. We've really had to think on our feet.

Paceman Broad lets rip after claiming the wicket of Australian batsman Shaun Marsh

Paceman Broad lets rip after claiming the wicket of Australian batsman Shaun Marsh

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Plans come together

We've put a lot of thought into how we want to tackle the Australians. Shane Bond, our Kiwi bowling coach, has worked closely with Giles Lindsay, our analyst, and come up with lots of stats.

I was given a sheet of paper detailing all the fours David Warner and Steve Smith have hit off me over the last three series, which helps me work out how to keep them quiet. We discovered, for example, that Warner's strike-rate in the first 10 overs of a Test innings is 90, with lots of boundaries. So if he is out for 26 in the 20th over, as he was in Australia's first innings, and has hit only two boundaries, we feel like we've done a good job.

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Smith's brilliance

It has not been a wicket where you can blast anyone out, let alone the best batsman in the world, so with Smith we adopted a policy of trying to make him make a mistake. Unfortunately for us, he didn't.

Like Joe Root or Virat Kohli, when he finds a surface to his liking, he's very hard to dislodge, but we were pleased with the way we bowled on the third morning, when we took three for 48 and gave nothing away.

But as Pat Cummins showed during his partnership with Smith, with the old ball it can be hard to take wickets. Not many batsmen in this Test have got out to jaffas.

Australia captain Steve Smith delivered a captain's performance as he scored 141 runs

Australia captain Steve Smith delivered a captain's performance as he scored 141 runs

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Lyon's lost bet

Everyone in the England dressing room found Nathan Lyon's comments before the game hilarious. They certainly spiced things, but it just didn't seem like his style: we reckon he must have lost a bet or was doing it as a joke.

What we didn't think was right were his comments about Matt Prior, who's back home with his kids and is not out here to defend himself. It was fair enough back in the day when Glenn McGrath would nominate Marcus Trescothick or whoever to be his bunny, but Prior does not even play any more. I'm all for having a go at the opposition — and we all know verbals are part of the Aussie tradition — but that felt like a step too far.

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Jimmy's non-injury

I'm not really sure how the rumour started that Jimmy Anderson had an injury but I can assure you he's absolutely fine. You're always going to have a bit of stiffness in a Test match, especially if you've just bowled 29 overs, but he has been fit all trip and he's fit now.

Broad played down concerns to  James Anderson, who appeared to be struggling with an injury

Broad played down concerns to James Anderson, who appeared to be struggling with an injury

Anderson appeared to be in discomfort as he bowled towards the end of the first session

Anderson appeared to be in discomfort as he bowled towards the end of the first session

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