Broad behaved like a hoodie

2013-07-20 00:00

IF confirmation was needed that Stuart Broad is a nasty piece of work on the cricket field, it came just before lunch on the final day of the first Ashes Test match.

With lunch looming and the Aussies closing in on their target, England clearly wanted to bowl as few balls as possible before seeking the sanctuary of the dressing room where they could still their panic with advice from their army of specialist advisers.

It was obvious that another over would follow that of Broad unless he did something that was completely against the spirit of cricket, which was exactly what he proceeded to do. With two balls to bowl he took off his boot, slowly put it back on and then tied up its laces with excessive deliberation. By the time he had finished bowling the over, the hands of the clock were past the time for lunch.

For once, however, the umpires were having none of it and ordered England to bowl another over so no damage was done. It was a dreadful piece of sportsmanship, but just the sort of sour taste moment one has come to expect from Broad. The real damage to Australian hopes had come the evening before when Broad had had the audacity to stand for a blatant edge which had been caught at slip by the Australian captain.

To the astonishment of the Aussies, he was given not out by umpire Aleem Dar. Broad stood there with the sort of smirk on his face that one would expect from a hoodie that had just mugged an old woman of her pension. He knew Australia had used up their reviews and had clearly resolved to take advantage of the situation when he went out to bat. It was vintage Broad. The 30 extra runs he subsequently made proved to be crucial in the context of the match.

Broad’s little performance cost Australia the match. Unless he is a man without a conscience, this moment should haunt him for the rest of his life and will come to define him as a cricketer who had no respect for cricket or his opponents. He is always hoping for a reprieve from a review of one of the many instances in the modern game when a batsman thought to be out can continue batting.

It is way past time for the England management to tell Broad that his behaviour on the field is unduly inflammatory and a poor reflection on the sportsmanship of the team. The chances of this happening in this age of wealth before decency are nil. With so much money for the players riding on the outcome of these iconic series, no thought is now given to the manner of victory.

The truth is that in the England dressing room the spirit of cricket is alive as long as it suits the Poms. For them it is a weapon to use in extremis against opponents and not a code of honour which determines the way they play their cricket.

Two years ago, in one of the Test matches against India, Ian Bell was run out following a dozy piece of cricket on his part when he thought the ball had hit the boundary rope and he carried on running towards the pavilion for the tea break. The ball was thrown to his end, the wicket broken and Bell was, quite correctly, given run out.

All hell broke loose. During the tea interval, the England captain and coach went to the Indian dressing room where they invoked the spirit of cricket and put pressure on the Indian captain, MS Dhoni, to recall Bell. Most Test captains would have told them to get lost but, possibly fearful of what might await his team from a hostile crowd, Dhoni agreed despite the fact that Bell, and not his team, was at fault.

Bell carried on batting and England retrieved their only dangerous position in the entire one-sided series. What had been at stake was the No. 1 Test ranking which they duly, if only temporarily, achieved.

Australia could have won the first Test if they had had any plan to manage the decision review system with the circumspection that it requires if they do not want to be on the wrong side of utter howlers.They may also have squeaked past the post had it not been for the brainless strokes played in both innings by Ed Cowan, who occupied the vital No. 3 position in the batting order. I would be surprised if he has not played his last Test for Australia.

It would also surprise me if Australia comes that close to another victory in this series. Their batting is not good enough to cope on the abnormally dry pitches which they can expect in what is becoming a dry summer. Clarke is their only class batsman and I expect the burden of leading a losing team to affect his batting as the series progresses,

Nick Mallett has always maintained that, in rugby, home side advantage is worth 10 points because the referees subconsciously blow in its favour. The same phenomenon is happening in cricket. In the first Test all the marginal decisions went in favour of England, which is one reason why the Aussies had no reviews left at the time of the Broad incident.

Two Australians were given out LBW to balls that were barely clipping the outside of the stumps. In similar circumstances, the England batsmen were given not out by the onfield umpires thus tempting Clarke to use up his reviews.

A case is beginning to be made for reviews in such circumstances to be regarded as acceptable and thus not forfeited.

In the end it was a shame that Broad spoiled an enthralling Test match, but no one in England will care.

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