The role of pantomime villain was gleefully played by Stuart Broad as Australia’s top order fluffed their lines on the opening day of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane on Thursday.
A fired-up Broad silenced his critics – and a shellshocked Gabba crowd – to take 5-65 as Australia were reduced to be 8-273 at stumps.
Broad was always going to be public enemy No.1 after refusing to walk when caught in a key innings as England won the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge in July.
Yet coach Darren Lehmann still felt compelled to later brand Broad a cheat and ask the Australian crowds to “get stuck into him”.
They duly delivered.
Boos, cheeky banners and the inevitable “Broad is a wanker” chant were unleashed as soon as the new ball was thrown to the lanky quick in the morning session.
“I actually really enjoyed it if I’m honest,” Broad told BBC Sport after play. “I braced myself to expect it, and I think I coped well – I was singing along at one stage.
“I’m pleased my mum wasn’t here, but I don’t give it the time of day. We don’t read the papers, it doesn’t spur me on, and you don’t need any more inspiration than playing for your country.
“In our medical assessments our psychologists said three players would thrive on abuse – me, Matt Prior and Kevin Pietersen. Ashes cricket brings the best out of me.
“As a team we don’t focus on the opposition. We’ve been like silent assassins on this trip going about our business, and it’s a relief to start the series well.”
Brisbane’s Courier Mail vowed not to use Broad’s name during the first Test as a protest over his much maligned actions in the last Ashes series won 3-0 by England.
But it remains to be seen how long they can maintain the stance after Broad became the name on everyone’s lips thanks to his day-one demolition job.
“So what are the Aussie papers going to say tomorrow,” tweeted former England paceman Matthew Hoggard.
One wag later changed the Brisbane paper’s editor’s name to “Stuart Broad” on Wikipedia.
In the same paper on Thursday, ex-skipper Allan Border asked the public not to jeer Broad, saying the silent treatment would be the best way to get under the cocky paceman’s skin.