County cricket September 22, 2013

Madsen wins first CMJ award for walking

ESPNcricinfo staff

Wayne Madsen, the Derbyshire captain, has been awarded the inaugural Christopher Martin-Jenkins Spirit of Cricket Elite Award, created by MCC and the BBC to acknowledge exceptional sportsmanship, for walking during a crucial County Championship match.

The award is bound to reawaken the debate over whether "walking" is to be regarded as a preferable form of behaviour in the modern game or whether the MCC, by championing the issue, is in danger of pushing the Spirit of Cricket to a point where it risks alienating majority support.

Walking has been uncommon in all forms of cricket in England for half a century or more, yet in a display of double standards which has long been accepted as inevitable, a failure to walk still ensures a batsman who remains at the crease is treated to ritual abuse.

The issue came back into the public eye when England's Stuart Broad failed to walk for an obvious edge in the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge, his "sin" looking worse than it was as the ball deflected off the gloves of the wicketkeeper, Brad Haddin and was caught at first slip.

At Chesterfield, in July, chasing Yorkshire's first innings total of 617, Madsen feathered a ball from bowler Steve Patterson to the wicketkeeper.

With one lone appeal coming from the Yorkshire fielders, umpire Jeff Evans gave the Derbyshire captain not out, only for Madsen to walk back to the pavilion on his own accord. Saying that it was a matter of principle, Madsen went on to score a defiant 141 in the second innings, but his side still lost by an innings and 113 runs.

MCC president, Mike Griffith, said: "MCC is passionate about its role as Guardian of the Laws and Spirit of Cricket, and it is instances like Wayne Madsen walking when his Derbyshire side was in real trouble against Yorkshire, which set an example for everyone in the game to follow and must be encouraged."

The winners of the youth award were Alton CC under-13 girls' team who impressed the judges after lending their opposition players to field during a league match and also allowing some of the opposition to bat twice.

"Deciding on the winner of the Youth Award and the school beneficiary was simultaneously challenging and heartening," Griffith said. "We received so many wonderful examples of how the Spirit of Cricket is alive and kicking in the junior game at clubs and on school playing fields across the country. Congratulations to the Alton CC under-13 girls team who ultimately won the Youth Award. Their story really epitomises what the Spirit of Cricket means.

Broad was pilloried in sections of the media for dishonesty and his actions, in return, were passionately supported by other critics as well as the vast majority of those involved in the game who said decisions should be left to the umpires.