November 19, 2008

Broad appeal

Andy Zaltzman
Stuart Broad is ecstatic after picking up Virender Sehwag's wicket, India v England, 2nd ODI, Indore, November 17, 2008
 © Getty Images

The second match between India and England was noteworthy for two things. Firstly, confirmation that one half-arsed warm-up game is insufficient preparation for taking on one of the world’s strongest teams on unfamiliar pitches. And secondly, for one of the greatest appeals in the history of cricket.

When Stuart Broad rent the skies of Indore with a caterwauled ‘Howwwwwizzzzaaaaaaat?’ after a well-bowled cutter trapped Rohit Sharma in front of his stumps, he did so with such assurance and certainty that a raised umpirical finger seemed a certainty. The only weakness in Broad’s appeal was the inconvenient truth that the ball had hit Sharma’s bat. And nothing else.

One can only imagine the mental processes that must have coursed through umpire Russell Tiffen’s brain at that moment. Marginal bat-pad appeals are what the professional umpire lives for, why he has spent years incarcerated within the ICC’s secret umpire training and indoctrination facility (rumoured to be in the basement of Wormwood Scrubs prison in London).

But this was not a questionable bat-pad or pad-bat incident. Sharma hit the ball with his bat, whilst his legs were still some distance away. And presumably Tiffen, elite umpire that he is, saw Sharma hit the ball with his bat whilst his legs were still some distance away. And yet Broad appealed with the confidence of a mathematics graduate asserting to an innumerate friend that 3 plus 3 equals 6.

Tiffen must have been momentarily overcome with feelings of confusion and doubt, a fear that his eyesight and/or sanity were failing him, that the cruel Gods of cricket were punishing him for poor decision in a previous match. The ball hit the bat, and the bat hit the ball, and yet there was the bowler leaping up and down, arms and head akimbo, as if the batsman himself had signed an admission of his own lbw guilt. No-one could have blamed Tiffen, in the circumstances, if he had raised the finger of doom out of pure discombobulation. It took a display of quite monumental calmness and self-assurance to give Sharma not out.

For Broad’s part, the appeal was so far-fetched and genuine that there can be no suggestion that this was a devious scheme to hoodwink the official and finesse a wicket from thin air. One can therefore ascribe his behaviour to a mixture of youthful excitement in the middle of an outstanding spell, the effects of the heat; perhaps an unfamiliarity with certain aspects of the lbw law, or the fact that Sharma’s bat might look a bit like a leg from certain angles. And to the England seamer’s new one-man campaign to balance the increasing dominance of bat over ball by trying to persuade the ICC that, on flat batting pitches, bowlers should be credited with a wicket for a nice piece of bowling.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

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Posted by Bhupesh on (December 11, 2008, 12:54 GMT)

Simply wow...Simply the best I have read recently!

Posted by Ramesh KRishnamurthy on (November 20, 2008, 17:07 GMT)

LOL. This is just too good. Cricinfo should make a weekly regular column - GO Zaltzman.

Posted by Jai Praveen on (November 20, 2008, 11:44 GMT)

Man, that was awesomely put.. I laughed my heart out.. Hats off to your uncanny ability to draw humour out of a simple incident!! :-)

Posted by Mathew Kuncheria on (November 20, 2008, 4:26 GMT)

agree with lizzyp. pure tongue in cheek stuff.. when do Asians shake off this Communist way of looking at things? Read Zaltzman for the first time and I am not going to be a regular.

Posted by Colin Cowdery on (November 20, 2008, 4:08 GMT)

What a hilarious article. I fell on the floor laughing laughing. One of the best articles in recent times

Posted by Nikhil on (November 20, 2008, 3:43 GMT)

how refreshingly brilliant! had me in stitches

Posted by Madhusudana V N on (November 20, 2008, 3:42 GMT)

Russell Tiffen punished by cruel gods for bad decisions in previous games... ha ha ha :-)

Posted by Parag Vijay on (November 20, 2008, 3:36 GMT)

Very nice article Andy. Funny from start till the end. I can only wonder what Stuart Broad must have thought after looking at the replay.LOL

Posted by prasanth on (November 20, 2008, 3:33 GMT)

thankyou for starting my day with a smile.

Posted by lizzyp29 on (November 20, 2008, 2:18 GMT)

Oh dear, some of you are missing the point of this article. It's written with tounge firmly in cheek, but there's always someone who will start the whole asian vs non-asian debate off again. Maybe the appeal was excessive, and he did then possibly show some dissent, but guys ... it was one appeal, and the article is about that single incident. Get a life ........

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Andy Zaltzman
Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. He is currently one half of TimesOnline's hit satirical podcast The Bugle, alongside John Oliver. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on Cricinfo.

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