Clem Sunter

That fatal moment

2013-08-23 13:26

Clem Sunter

According to newspaper reports, the Australian cricket coach Darren Lehmann is hoping the Aussie public will openly condemn Stuart Broad for being a blatant cheater when the return Ashes series begins in Australia later this year. A lot of people in South Africa will call this sour grapes because Australia have been thumped by England in the current series. Equally, Broad's superb spells of quick bowling were largely responsible for Australia's batting collapse in the Fourth Test.

Having played a lot of cricket in my lifetime and having watched the incident which created all the furore in the First Test at the Trent Bridge in Nottinghamshire, his home ground, I think he should have walked. In the TV replay, he clearly edged the ball into the slip's hands. It was not a minor knick which you might have doubts about. This was a major deflection which he must have felt with the certain knowledge that he was technically out. He did not walk when the umpire gave him not out because he knew the Australians had used up all their referrals to the third umpire.

From the point of view of the result which was very tight as England won by only 14 runs, many would argue that he did the correct thing. He went on to score many more runs and if he had walked, Australia might well have won the match and changed the whole dynamic of the series. However, from the perspective of his personal reputation, it was a fatal moment which will stay with him for the rest of his life. He knew there was going to be a replay which would tell the truth and yet he stood his ground. Not often does it happen in your life that there is that split second which is a crossroads to eternity. You have that miniscule moment to decide which road to take and that is it - there is no turning back, no second choice. The future has moved on.

Should he have walked and England lost the match and possibly the series, Broad would have had to live with a completely different burden. He let down the side, he let down the country and the players might not have been given the same match bonuses (if they have them). So it was a tough decision, a tragic choice either way but that is what life is about. So often you do not have an easy and a tough path to choose between, they are both uphill rocky roads. Then it is a matter of right or wrong, obeying the moral commandments or flouting them.

I am sure that a lot of people have  come to Broad's defence saying that in today's highly competitive and remunerative world of cricket most batsmen would have done exactly the same thing. It was only in the days of amateur sport when gentlemen played the glorious game that honour prevailed. Peter May, a former England test captain, always walked but you are a fool if you do it now. I do not buy that argument one bit. My dad had a phrase that he used frequently: "My word is my bond." I know that if I had done what Broad did, my dad would have shaken his head. He would have ultimately forgiven me, but there would always have been a hint of disappointment in his voice.

Why is a fleeting moment in a game played far away worthy of an article on News24? Because those same split second decisions occur in politics, business, the sciences, the arts - in other words in every aspect of life. You can lose your reputation in a flash.

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