Stuart Broad returned with the figures of 9.3-5-15-8 on Day One of the fourth Ashes 2015 Test © Getty Images
Stuart Broad returned with the figures of 9.3-5-15-8 on Day One of the fourth Ashes 2015 Test © Getty Images

Stuart Broad obliterated Australia in the first morning of the fourth Ashes 2015 Test at Trent Bridge with one of the finest — if not the very best — spells seen in recent memory. His spell of 8 for 15, while phenomenal,  was not entirely uncommon in the early days of Test cricket. Shiamak Unwalla feels Broad offered us a glimpse of history with this spell. READ: Stuart Broad rips Australia apart as visitors are bundled out for 60 on Day 1, 4th Ashes 2015 Test

Stuart Broad is not the fastest bowler in the world. In fact, he is not even the fastest bowler playing this Test. He certainly does not have the mastery over seam and swing that James Anderson does. He will rarely give batsmen nightmares (though Michael Clarke is doing his best to become an exception!) at the prospect of having to face him. And yet, there are few modern bowlers who can smite through the opposition quite like Broad. That he has three Test seven-wicket hauls is no coincidence. Broad has the ability to run through sides in a single spell — something that always makes him a threat regardless of opposition or conditions. READ: Australia desperately need Mitchell Starc to strike in Ashes 2015

With his spell of 8 for 15, Broad registered the 21st-best spell in over a century of Test match history. Only three bowlers who played in this millennium have better figures than him: Anil Kumble (whose fabled 10 for 74 came in 1999), Muttiah Muralitharan (who has two 9-fors), and Rangana Herath (9 for 127 in 2014). Some of the other bowlers on the list, such as Jim Laker, George Lohmann, Syd Barnes, Hugh Tayfield, and Johnny Briggs, have gone down as hallowed named in the annals of the game. READ: James Anderson’s side strain reminiscent of Glenn McGrath’s twisted ankle in Ashes 2005

Broad has taken the third-cheapest 8-for, after Lohmann and Briggs, both of whom played in the 1800s, when such figures — while still outstanding — were not as rare as they are now. It was not so much about how many wickets Broad took, but how pedestrian he made the batsmen seem. One must bear in mind that this is the same team that piled on 566 at Lord’s less than a month ago. Another thing worth noting is that the last match played at Trent Bridge saw Anderson, of all people, score 81! READ: Steven Finn’s dream spell spells Australia’s doom in Ashes 2015 3rd Test

Ashes 2015 has already seen some terrific spells. Anderson took 6 for 47 and Steven Finn 6 for 79 in the Test, and Mitchell Johnson bowled two fiery three-wicket spells at Lord’s. But none of those spells had the sort of impact that Broad’s did. There was always at least one batsman who stood tall amid the ruins and put on an impressive display. That did not happen this time around; Broad did not allow it. It is ironic that No. 11 Nathan Lyon survived longer than all but one batsman, and was the third-highest run-scorer (fourth, if you count extras) in the innings. READ: Dear Australian batsmen, will you stop letting your bowlers down in Ashes 2015?

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)