Stuart Broad Didn’t Walk And I’m OK With That

Right, first things first. I don’t like Stuart Broad.

As a professional athlete on the playing field, i think he portrays himself in a very negative light. Too often does he play the victim; too often his body language carries a “why me?” look and feel to it.

His condescending nature and propensity for whingeing are unparalleled in the modern game. In short, he is the embodiment of the first-world-affluent, privately educated WASP, bereft of humility, dignity and grace. But a cheat? Spare me.

“Check out my ‘Eton haircut'”

Ever since Broad’s ill-executed late cut to Michael Clarke at first slip, all I’ve seen is social media outrage (as if that’s anything new) over his refusal to walk. But I can just about name one-and-a-half cricketers in the history of the game who have walked off the field in admittance and usurped the on-field umpire’s decision in an act of honesty. It just doesn’t happen.

Adam Gilchrist is perhaps the only player to have ever done so consistently, but his admirable stance ignored the realities of the game, the fact that human error can undermine even the noblest of intentions. I recall an Ashes test match in 2006, pre-the Decision Review System, where Jimmy Anderson had a caught behind appeal upheld by umpire and well-documented rare bloke Billy Bowden. Gilchrist played and clearly missed, did not walk, but was given out anyway. Walking does nothing to reward the batsman other than maybe than land them an advertising deal for a lie-detector company, a truly niche market if ever there was one.

“Howzat? But he smashed it? Not out? Oh ok, no worries.”

The very notion that Stuart Broad should have ‘done the right thing’ and walked off the field, almost akin to retiring, is laughable. It was five years ago when Michael Clarke, now Australian captain Michael Clarke, played a similar shot off Anil Kumble in a highly controversial match at the SCG in an equally edgy series. (Andrew Symonds was called a “monkey” in the same game by Harbijhan Singh, you might recall.) In this case, Clarke edged a late cut straight to Rahul Dravid at first slip and stood there waiting to be given out. It was borderline embarrassing. On that occasion, however, he was given out by Billy Doctrove. But the obviousness of his guilt was just as transparent.

The core of this issue is not one based around morality. Would NZ fly-half Dan Carter stick his hand up for a knock-on if he fumbled one over the line in a Bledisloe Cup match? Greg Inglis didn’t in last year’s State of Origin. Should Stephen Bradbury have asked officials for a re-start of his gold medal winning 1000 metre final in Salt Lake City, bringing into light the unfairness on his competitors after they all fell over each other metres before the finish line? Where do we draw the line? Or is it that because this is cricket – “the gentleman’s game” – that we expect a level of decorum not required in other professional sports?

Steven Bradbury, first over the line

The umpire in question, Aleem Dar, has form for such a glaring blunder, mind you. I recommend a trip to YouTube to see AB DeVilliers edging a ball to Sachin Tendulkar at first slip off the bowling of Zaheer Khan in a one day game. Old mate Aleem missed that one, too.

Over the course of five days Australia received more favourable umpiring decisions than England. Ashton Agar was adjudged not out stumped by the third umpire when he was on just 6; however, he went on to make 98 crucial runs. But I’ll stop you there; he was definitely out.  Jonathan Trott, meanwhile, was mightily unlucky to have his LBW decision over-ruled first ball – and before anybody even tries to argue, Brad Haddin smashed that ball to seal the win for England. He did. He did hit it. So did Clarke – and Michael knew it, but he was unfortunately still stuck in the troublesome method of using the DRS as a tactical ploy. England did not. And that is the core issue here.

“It was only a scratch. I might get away with it”. “It might be missing leg. I’m the last batsman. We have to use it.” “We need a wicket now. That looked close-ish. Let’s go for it.”

That’s how Australia have been using the DRS. If they hadn’t squandered their two challenges – including one on a Johnny Bairstow LBW which was missing leg stump by a foot – Broad would have been given out and none of this would have furthered. The DRS was brought in to remove the howler. That was a howler and so were Australia’s decisions to refer.

“I just like making the signal.”

England have a method whereby, the bowler, wicket-keeper Matt Prior and captain Alistair Cook must all agree before using a referral. So guess who won the DRS battle?

The Australian players know that they are as much to blame as Aleem Dar, and that’s why you haven’t heard a single Australian – or English – player complain about the DRS in this game.

Sport is as unjust as it is a wonderful pantomime. We need heroes. We need villains. We need Ashton Agar as much as we need Stuart Broad. We need to love and we need to hate. Sport without theatre, without drama, is just a bunch of blokes in a field counting runs, or points, or desperately trying to avoid going home to their wives. That’s why you should hate Stuart Broad.

Stuart Broad is not a cheat. A shit bloke? Almost definitely. A cheat? Don’t kid yourself.

By Ian Higgins

Shit! Some Quick Thoughts On The Ashes…

So we lost the first Ashes test to England. They’re ahead 1-0 in the series, and it’ll be hard to claw things back from here.

More importantly, how weird does it feel to be a cricketing underdog again? In my 27-ish years of life, I have never truly experienced this type of feeling.

As a child of the McGrath, Warne, Waugh(s) era, I had been conditioned to 350+ first innings totals, obscene innings victories and imagery of Shane Warne popping corks on the balcony of Lords. This was my reality.

So it is therefore hard for me – and those of us who have experienced some 20 consecutive years of world cricket domination – to see Australia languish in this veritable quagmire. But languish we must, as we are in what has been described for the past four years as a “transition period.”

“Fuck yeah!”

Some quick thoughts from the first test include:

  • Ashton Agar: where the actual fuck has this guy sprung from? He must certainly be invested in heavily by Cricket Australia over the next 10 years and potentially groomed as an Australian captain down the track. The biggest issue for CA will be to keep him “grounded” given his new-found success and fame, but this shouldn’t be a factor because I’m led to believe he comes from a “good family.”
  • Darren Lehmann: YES! Australia’s new coach is not risk-averse and appears to have the backing of his team. While Mickey Arthur’s sacking and the subsequent installation of Lehmann as coach reeked of xenophobia, there is something to be said for having a respected Australian cricketer in charge of the national team, as opposed to a South African (despite how much of a “nice guy” he may be).
  • Australia’s bowling attack is better, on the whole, than England’s: While Swann and Anderson are match-winners in their own right, Australia’s attack seems slightly more balanced. Steven Finn copped a pasting from Agar(!) and Haddin, while Broad seems to lack the penetration and swing of Pattinson and Starc.
  • Australia’s top-order needs to man the fuck up: This is abundantly obvious. Cowan, while he may bring a rare intelligence to the Australia team, is clearly out of form and must be replaced, post-haste, with Khawaja at no. 3.
  • Stuart Broad is a cunt: No elaboration required.
  • The Decision Review System (DRS) is a fucking joke, but the technology was vindicated at the end: While it was unsettling to see the test match decided upon a DRS referral, there is no denying that Brad Haddin did edge the ball that sealed Australia’s fate. But Australia need to figure out how to properly utilise their referrals. Objective consultation – between bowler,’keeper and captain – is key; emotion cannot override objectivity. Australian cricket has always thrived on emotion and impulsiveness, but the DRS system does not allow for rash decision-making. Cook kept a cool head and utilised his referrals effectively; Clarke – and his team-mates – did not.

The series is well and truly alive; however, England are certainly still favourites for the Ashes. But fuck it hurts losing to England at anything.

By Dave Edwards