The Ashes 2013-14 October 28, 2013

Broad still stands his ground


Stuart Broad, who has been presented as Australia's "public enemy No. 1" since his refusal to walk in the Trent Bridge Test proved a pivotal point in the last Ashes series, has wasted no time in informing his critics that if the circumstances were repeated he might do the same again.

England have indicated that Broad will have an extra security presence if there are signs of lingering aggression among the Australian public, but despite the personal pressures that puts him under, nearly four months later he is still determinedly standing his ground.

It was never likely that Broad would attempt to mollify his critics with a tactical expression of regret for the fateful moment when he nicked the teenage Australian spinner Ashton Agar off the gloves of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin to first slip and indulged in some red-faced gardening while the umpire Aleem Dar, seemingly confused by the deflection, adjudged him not out.

He will simply try to win them over with a searingly honest cricket assessment: he has never been a walker, he is not about to start now and, in that, he is no different to the vast majority who play the game.

The issue of whether Broad had any regrets was raised by a former England captain, Michael Vaughan, on BBC Five Live. It was a question he would have been expecting. "No, we would have lost the game," he responded. "I've never been a walker so why would I walk when the umpire's given me not out?

"I could name you 18 or 19 players who played in an Ashes series who nicked it and didn't walk. We could be here all day if I named players from the past. I am trying to think of someone in the modern game who is consistently a walker.

"It's a really interesting debate and something that got blown so out of proportion maybe because the Australians were frustrated they had wasted two referrals. It was an important moment in the game because, let's be honest, if Belly and I hadn't put on those runs, we wouldn't have won the Test match so we would only have won 3-1 or something."

As the debate raged about whether Broad had offended the Spirit of Cricket, England sneaked the Trent Bridge Test by 14 runs, the 138-run stand between Broad and Ian Bell proving decisive. Broad was pilloried by the media for his lack of moral self-policing but he was widely defended by those in the game.

On the surface, as he showed in that split-second at Trent Bridge, he is blessed with the ability to look a picture of serenity, but until Manchester gets its act together and drills bore holes into the underground Cheshire Basin reservoir he remains Britain's major source of geothermal energy with copious amounts of steam liable to bubble to the surface at any moment. His only sensible choice is to tell it as it is.

He would be encouraged to know of a poll taken in the Melbourne Age back in mid-July when Australia's resentment was at its highest. The case for Broad to walk was argued eruditely by the Age's respected columnist, Greg Baum, who termed his decision "unconscionable", but 40 per cent of respondents to a poll - presumably, even in this global age, predominantly Australian - supported his decision to await the umpire's decision. As anger has a habit of gradually subsiding, Broad can safely assume that as the first Test in Brisbane nears at least half of the Australian cricketing public has no issue whatsoever with what he did.

As it happened, he did walk later in the Ashes series, but that should not be regarded as a change of policy. "It happens in a split second," he said. "There are times when you nick it and you're so frustrated with yourself you get your head down and you storm off because you're annoyed."

Australia's coach Darren Lehmann later accused Broad of "blatant cheating" and in a laddish, none-too-serious interview on the Triple M radio station, exhorted the Australian public to "get stuck into him when he comes to Australia". The England team, and the ECB, were incensed with Lehmann's truculence and he was fined 20 per cent of his match fee for "inappropriate comments".

Broad revealed more details of his peace-making chat with Lehmann after the series as well as suggesting that Australia's players had also rebuked their coach for overstepping the line.

"Ryan Harris came over to me and apologised," Broad said. "First of all he said from the players we have given him a hard time and his comments were unacceptable. Then Lehmann came across and said: 'I meant it in jest'. I said that in black and white it doesn't look like jest to me. He said something along the lines of: 'Listen to the interview', and I said: 'I have far better things to do with my time', and that was about it. We shared a nice beer and I said: 'See you in November'."

But if Broad is relying on honest-to-goodness debate on to see him through the Test series unscathed, it is by no means certain that a section of the Australian media feels the same way. That has been interpreted by one Australian newspaper as a refusal to accept Lehmann's apology and described as "fanning the flames". When he asked for some interesting Australians to follow on Twitter, his attempt at bridge building was reported, quite outlandishly, as him "baiting" Australia fans on social media.

Australia has its public enemy No. 1 and they intend him to top the charts until the New Year. That he will receive a hostile welcome at The Gabba in little more than three weeks' time can be taken for granted.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 30, 2013, 12:10 GMT

    @yorkshire pudding - I am not talking about whether the incident was sporting or not. In fact I actually have no real problem with broad not walking (because it was within the rules), although my concern is why does a fielder get penalised then. I am comparing these 2 incidents to describe the sudden change in opinion of Andy Flower towards "spirit of game" which I find ridiculous. Had he opposed Broad then I would have no problem, because then he is sticking to one side of river. but here it is a case of using the definition of "spirit of game" to the way it suits him. In the bell incident, the 3rd umpire also made the decision, so why did coach fail to accept it then. It is the logic behind coach's (and players involved in that incident) support for broad that I find hypocritical. I support Jardine in this regard that while he felt nothing was wrong with 'bodyline' he wasn't complaining when on the receiving end against WI.

  • Jason on October 30, 2013, 9:51 GMT

    @Naman Gupta, in regards to Bell, I personally was uncomfortable about what happened, however, the Indian players in the deep were starting to congregate towards to pavillio and walk off, dhoni was taking off his gloves, and the slips had recovered the helmets from behind the stumps.

    this suggests that either the Indian players considered that it was lunch, or that they were deliberately attempting to mislead bell into leaving his ground.

    As others have stated India came out with a great deal of credit when they reversed their decision as witnessed by the applause of the crowd when it was announced they'd withdrawn the appeal.

  • John on October 30, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    @ Chris_P on (October 30, 2013, 3:46 GMT) lol - I reckon your view is shared by most balanced people period. I'll admit I'd not be happy with any opposing player (at the time) but I'd be more livid with the umpire for missing such an obvious edge. What I like about Broad is that he told it as it was. I may be wrong but I seem to recall that Broad got a plum LBW as a bowler later on and it was not given and Eng had no reviews. So long as he doesn't squeal when he gets a bad one there's no huge issue for me

  • John on October 30, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    @Naman Gupta on (October 30, 2013, 0:11 GMT) - As I said before , I think Flower/Strauss wanted to avoid future hostility and as I said before if Eng ran a player out who was walking off for tea , I'd be much more uncomfortable than I would be with a player standing their ground. To me one case was of a team (or maybe I should say a couple of players as Dravid said the team felt uncomfortable about it) trying to slyly get a cheap wicket while a player was walking off for tea and the other is of a player standing his ground in front of everyone , waiting for the umpire to give his decision Also Dravid (when interviewed re the Bell incident at the time) said the players felt uncomfortable about it and acc to this piece the Aus players had no issue with Broad not walking and on this thread the posts from Aus fans go along with this - end of matter.

  • Peter on October 30, 2013, 3:46 GMT

    @JG2704. I reckon my view is shared by most Aussie cricketers and that is umpiring decisions are left to umpires. Maybe when I see an umpire playing some of my shots and scoring runs for me, I might think about helping him do his job by walking, but seriously, I won't be holding my breath for that to happen. Really, no serious Aussie cricket player is knocking Broad, it's a media beat-up, trust me.

  • Dummy4 on October 30, 2013, 0:11 GMT

    @JG2704 - what u consider sporting or unsporting is ur opinion. But u have to abide by it. This was a case of flower demanding a withdrawal of dhoni's appeal under the name of spirit of game, but then defending broad when England were the beneficiary. So now with broad's case, this side were the ones benefiting from it so it was all fine and 'within the rules'. But when opposition did something similar against the same side, it was 'against the spirit of game'. Now don't u find this hypocritical. Douglas jardine employed body line, but he never complained when he was on receiving end against WI. U pick a side of a river u stay there, not switch sides based on when situation suits u.

  • Nicholas on October 29, 2013, 23:55 GMT

    To change the subject slightly, the great 'walking' incident is the one involving Adam Gilchrist, when he was given Not Out but walked off anyway...I have watched that incident a dozen times on You Tube...and I am convinced that Gilly, in fact, DIDN'T hit it, but went off anyway!!

  • Richard on October 29, 2013, 23:46 GMT

    This is all white noise. I'm an Aussie and don't expect anyone to walk, almost no-one does anymore. Everything about this has been blown out of all proportion, from my countrymen who made such a big deal of it at the time to the English who got so stressed out about a few words Darren Lehman said in a radio interview when he was plainly mucking around with the host. Enough already, give it a rest.

  • John on October 29, 2013, 17:23 GMT

    @ oscoli67 - Broad himself says in this interview

    "It happens in a split second," he said. "There are times when you nick it and you're so frustrated with yourself you get your head down and you storm off because you're annoyed."

    Maybe he walked 2nd time because he knew they had referrals left or maybe he just didn't have the wherewithal about him in that innings. TBH , I'd say the latter as I'm not sure a player coming in late order would know what reviews the other side had left and there's always the chance that the Aus players would not be 100% sure and choose not to review it and I'm not sure he knew Aus had no reviews in the 1st inns. I believe that Broad just doesn't walk unless he drops his guard so to speak

  • Jason on October 29, 2013, 13:55 GMT

    All this fuss about something that has been a part of cricket for decades...I will point all readers and commentators towards Michael Hussey's recent autobiography. In it, the phrase "I nicked one but was given not out" or "[Batsman X] nicked one and was given not out" appears at least half a dozen times...This is professional sport, with professional decision makers. If the umpire makes a mistake, and there are no reviews left, then that, I'm afraid, is that. People can get on their high horses all they want about Stuart Broad, but what he did this Summer was no worse than any number of similar incidents that have happened in that and other recent series, and the fact that the ball went to slip (via the wicket keeper) is completely incidental. Broad knew he had hit it, gave the umpire the opportunity to give him out, the umpire gave him not out, Australia had no reviews left. End of story. Be in no doubt that Broad would NOT have reviewed it, had he been given out.

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