The Calvin Report: Walk? Only if the car runs out of petrol

Don't listen to the self-appointed guardians of Stuart Broad's conscience. These are the Ashes – hard, tense Test cricket with no prisoners taken

For someone depicted as the destroyer of childhood dreams, Stuart Broad took notoriety in his long, languid stride. The sanctimony of strangers, and the selective scrutiny of self-appointed guardians of his conscience, was an utter irrelevance on another burnished, breathless day at Trent Bridge.

Broad played a full part, with bat and ball when his critics would have had him appear on his home ground in a ball and chain. He received a standing ovation when zealots would have had him sent, in shameful silence, to solitary confinement.

When such arbiters of moral rectitude as Piers Morgan perch on their hind legs to pass judgement on a batsman's refusal to walk, and a professional sceptic like Richard Dawkins speaks about the England all-rounder with the fervour of someone who has lost his religion, we are in surreal territory.

There was something portentous about Broad's central role in what is likely to be the key moment of an insistently intense Test match. He found the edge of Michael Clarke's bat, but umpire Aleem Dar could not bring himself to give the Australia captain out before he had received confirmation the ball had carried to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

Clarke, perhaps piqued by the indignity, promptly used up his side's final review. Despite the marginal nature of contact, it was futile. He trudged off, with a poignant glance across at England's exultant celebrations, to the sound of choreographed booing.

The tone of the Ashes summer has been set. Hawk-Eye has supplanted the human eye. Instinct and experience cannot compete with the binary certainties of computerised judgement. The decision review system (DRS) has mutated into a form of Russian Roulette, in which players are increasingly inclined to chance their luck and their nerve.

Umpires will be under unprecedented pressure to justify the received wisdom that, despite moments of manufactured confusion, between 92 and 93 per cent of their decisions are correct.

Ironically, given that Steve Waugh coined the phrase "mental degradation" to characterise his all-conquering Australia team's policy of invading the minds of opponents, the officials face burnout. The ICC elite panel of umpires has only four members who have the required neutrality to stand in an Ashes Test – Dar, his Trent Bridge colleague Kumar Dharmasena, Marais Erasmus and Tony Hill.

Good luck chaps. You will need it. If teams succeed in agitating for unlimited reviews, the powers that be in Dubai might as well exhume the concept of timeless Tests. The trial by technology will become repetitive, ponderous and ultimately self-defeating.

Broad, who is unlikely ever to be accused of being a shrinking violet, will be in his element. He milked the moment of walking when he finally edged James Pattinson to Brad Haddin after scoring 65 without adding to his reputation as a one-man international incident.

The Australians did not deign to applaud earlier, when he reached his half-century with a broadsword slash which sped between Shane Watson and Clarke, who were in "after you, Claude" mode at first and second slip respectively.

But the tribal elders knew the score. As Ian Healy, a wicketkeeper of legendary determination, volubility observed: "Walk in an Ashes Test match? Only if the car runs out of petrol."

The wider debate had the intellectual merit of those so-called Aussie Fanatiacs, gold and green encrusted exhibitionists whose idea of wit and wisdom is to greet a new England batsman with a concerted chorus of "quack, quack, quack".

Broad deserves to be judged on his own terms. No one can doubt his commitment – a full length dive to save a boundary late in the day, at the inevitable expense of his injured right shoulder proved that – but his self-confidence occasionally strays into self-regard.

When things go against him, especially with the ball in his hand, he has the air of an over-indulged adolescent. Tall, blond and perpetually pouting in adversity, it is tempting to typecast him as the Violet Elizabeth Bott of Test cricket.

But no one died. Nottingham was calm as it cooked on the hottest day of the year. This was Test cricket as it was meant to be. It was hard, tense, take-no-prisoners stuff. A collision of wills and cultures.

Every Australian wicket was greeted by a primitive howl of triumph, and a collective jig of delight which would not have been out of place in the shop-soiled cathedrals of football's Premier League. It was de rigeur for the successful bowler to punch the air and wheel around in an exultant arc.

Further outrages to the supposed spirit of cricket doubtlessly await, as the modern twist to an ancient rivalry becomes increasingly apparent. The worthies of the MCC might be best advised to prepare themselves for the outrage of the first Robot Dance to desecrate Lord's, in this week's Second Test.

There is something patronising about cricket's more vocal apologists claiming moral authority over other sports. Batsmen who refuse to walk are no different to scrum-halves who feed the ball into the second row of a set-piece, or strikers who palm the ball into the goal without a moment's hesitation. They are products of a hard trade in which weakness is preyed upon. It's Sporting Life as we know it, imperfect, improbable and utterly compelling.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
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

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us