James Lawton: Stuart Broad's refusal to walk shows that the Spirit of Cricket is well and truly dead

Broad knew that he could stand there, defiant, unbowed and unashamed

Stuart Broad never had the diplomatic service as a career option and as the latest Ashes battle picked up some of its oldest aggressive tendencies in the sunlit evening of the third day of the first Test we were once again reminded why this was so.

Broad doesn’t do anything that might be seen as a concession to an opponent and today he stood mute and mocking in the face of Australian claims that he should walk from the crease.

If cricket hadn’t long lost any sense that it was the game of manners and superior sportsmanship, he would certainly have done that when he sent a delivery from the spinner-cum-batting sensation Ashton Agar off the face of his bat against the thigh of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and into the hands of Aussie skipper and first slip Michael Clarke.

He was out, completely and demonstrably, and he knew it as well as any of his outraged opponents. He also knew that the Australians had frittered away their DRS chances with some half-baked challenges and he could stand there, defiant and unbowed and unashamed, just as long as he liked.

For years cricketers attempted to bamboozle umpires with appeal after appeal in hectoring pressure and cheap opportunism – and sometimes it worked. The decision review system was introduced to ease some of the worst of the problem and so was an airy charter known optimistically as the Spirit of Cricket.

Broad showed us the spirit of modern cricket vividly enough in last night’s flashpoint, one which might well colour the rest of a series which was supposed to feature not tonight’s raw animosity and edgy attrition, but a series of formal English victories. Broad’s spirit of cricket could be encapsulated easily enough in the classic Aussie phrase, “Stuff you, mate.”

The Nottingham player’s apologists were quick to say if the positions of the antagonists had been reversed the moral outrage of Clarke would have been something much more pragmatic. Increasing the Australian ire, no doubt, was their feeling that after two brilliantly combative days – and one when they appeared to have gone a step further into a potentially winning position – the English were on the point of completing an impressive recovery.

They had threatened to do this from the start of the day when captain Alastair Cook and chief batting power Kevin Pieterson began, in their hugely different ways, to build on their second-innings score of 80 for 2. That left them a mere 15 runs ahead after the extraordinary pyrotechnics of Australia’s teenaged No 11 but Pietersen began to accumulate boundaries in a steady rhythm. Cook was mostly becalmed but this was Test cricket, after all, and as long as Pietersen was periodically finding the gaps he too was helping to secure his team’s position.

Unfortunately, Pietersen’s concentration – which is something that tends to breed supreme confidence only on his most serene days – collapsed when paceman James Pattinson delivered a full-length delivery. Pieterson played on and when soon after Cook nudged the emerging Agar into the slips the Australians were once again filled with self-belief.

It developed still further when the first-day hero, Peter Siddle, got a shortish delivery to sit up more sharply than expected and saw Matt Prior miscue it into the hands of Ed Cowan at midwicket.

Once again the Australians were suggesting they might confound the widespread belief that they were perhaps the weakest squad in Ashes history.

The prospect filled them with an instinct to fight which has been rarely visible, at least outside of a late-night Birmingham bar, since they arrived in the late English spring. It was one that might just have delivered a crushing advantage but for the unfolding defiance – and some would say cynicism – of Broad and the extremely good influence of his batting companion, Ian Bell.

Bell, for all he has a batting average well into the mid-forties, which is the kind of mark hit by those who have made themselves at home in Test cricket, has been less than a keynote influence recently. He has the class, of course, but not always the competitive vigour.

Today, though, he was the man who delivered the most important contribution on a day which England knew might well prove utterly decisive. In the end it wasn’t quite that but, with Bell just short of a century, and Broad in need of three runs for a 50 which, if it happens, may prove not all that much more contentious than the bodyline series, England plainly have the game within their grasp today.

With a lead of 261, England can contemplate a position of some sharp advantage on a wearing pitch to be exploited by James Anderson and Graeme Swann.

So far, it has been a superbly balanced engagement but there was a moment before Broad’s flat refusal to conform to an old cricket principle when he was also close to declaring that finally a break in the balance of power had arrived. He did it with a shot that arrived like an extra burst of sunshine, a rippling drive through extra cover off the generally impressive paceman Mitchell Starc.

In that moment Broad was not the natural-born agitator of warring spirits, an individual who might have brought discord to the Last Supper. He was a tall and classic English cricketer producing a moment of superior class. Australian shoulders slumped somewhat, rather as the English ones had done when the startling Agar produced some of his most fluent shots, and that moment there was indeed a sense that one of the fighters had moved to the centre of the ring.

It was a hard, clean punch to the boundary and it said that England had gained finally a clear advantage.

That might have stored away an extra edge of frustration when Broad not only refused to walk but implied that the very idea of doing so was an affront to a fully paid up modern sportsman. This, no doubt, is an Ashes series filled with promise but no one has said it is going to be perfect. Suddenly, this seemed just as well.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence