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.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Sport
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
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

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style