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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
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

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition