Stuart Broad declared the fire was burning once more after a five-wicket haul that raised further questions about his peripheral role during England’s failed Ashes bid.
The 35-year-old had begun to doubt his international future after a low-key 2021 that was damaged by injury and ended with him missing out on the seamer-friendly pitches witnessed during the defeats at the Gabba and the MCG.
But after his five for 101 on the second day in Sydney helped stem the bleeding as Australia amassed 416 for eight declared, not least with Ben Stokes unable to bowl due to a side strain, such thoughts appeared to have melted away.
Broad, who missed the back-end of the summer with a calf injury and dropped below Ollie Robinson in the pecking order, said: “I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed to miss out in Brisbane and Melbourne. But when you miss out in Test matches that actually makes you realise how special it is.
“I’ve still got a burning desire to play the sport. I must admit, a few years ago I was umming and aahing and I spent a lot of time talking to my dad [former England opener Chris Broad] about it. He had a great belief that you should play the sport you love for as long as you can, while the fire burns. Because nothing replicates it in life.
“I think 2021 was my worst year, with the intermittent cricket – I had a play one, miss one type experience – but bowling today made me relight that fire again. It’s a great stadium, good atmosphere and I’m bowling at the world’s best – this is what it’s about.”
Meanwhile Australia’s Usman Khawaja was in an emotional mood after stroking 137 on his return to the side to win a 45th cap. Given a hero’s reception in Sydney, the city where he grew up after his parents emigrated from Pakistan when he was five years old, the left-hander reflected on the wider significance.
Khawaja said: “Honestly, it was the most touching, humbling, amazing feeling out there today, getting that hundred and the roar that went up and chanting ‘Uzzie’. It’s stuff you dream of. I never expected that to happen.
“To have that it was unbelievable. They talk about the American Dream, I call it the Australian Dream. I joke about it, but I’m quite serious. I’m living the Australian dream.
“My parents came over here from Pakistan to give me and my family a better life. They’ve come all the way out here and I’m representing Australia in the national sport.
“I’ve gone through hard times, broken down barriers to get to where I am right now and I think at some level people can relate to that and they can see it, and I love them for it. The love I got out here today is something special and something I’ll never forget.”