To walk or not to walk

 

Stuart Broad is a cheat.  No argument can deny that fact.   After cutting a ball to first slip in the first Ashes Test, Broad refused to walk.  He failed in his duty of care to the game, his supporters and his legacy.

 

Broad is not alone in cheating.  He joins hundreds of other cricketers in infamy, those who refused to walk.

 

Walking is honourable, and there is no point getting into a historical or hysterical argument about which country’s players are worse.  Throughout history, players from all countries have cheated.

 

Had Broad walked, Australia might’ve won the Test, which makes his audacious act even more galling.  He will be remembered as the man who cheated Australia out of the first Test.

 

Those obdurate Test cricket disciples might point their fingers at the umpire Aleem Dar, who for reasons known only to him, didn’t see the deviation or hear the clack as the ball thwacked into Broad’s bat.

 

But Dar is only partly to blame.  Had Australia not wasted their referrals on ridiculous appeals, then Broad’s clunk to first slip would’ve been overturned.

 

Those simple facts don’t change the unalterable, that Broad stared down his opponents and refused to walk when he’d edged to first slip.

 

Umpires occasionally make bad decisions.  Cricketers fondly refer to these errors as swings and roundabouts.  Cop a bad decision this time, get a good one next time.

 

That resigned attitude must be relegated to the past, because history is littered with cheats who have put one over the umpire.  Some of those cheats have gone on to get a hundred, take five wickets or turn the balance of a Test.

 

In 1975, Michael Holding cried tears of rage when Ian Chappell refused to walk after edging to the keeper.  In a 1992 world cup game, Geoff Marsh edged Alan Donald’s first ball to the keeper and was given not out.

 

Marsh refused to walk, despite the evidence that suggested he had almost middled the ball.

 

In 1999, Justin Langer refused to walk after edging to the keeper off Wasim Ackram.  The umpire’s wrong decision turned the Hobart Test in Australia’s favour.

 

Few batsmen in history have walked.  There was no shame in it.  Now there is.

 

During a World Cup semi final against Sri Lanka, Adam Gilchrist bottom-edged the ball into his pad then into the wicket keeper’s gloves.  He was given not out, but chose to walk.

 

His thoughts at the time, contained in the passage taken from his autobiography below, show the turmoil.

 

I don’t recall what my exact thoughts were, but somewhere in the back of my mind, all that history from the Ashes series was swirling around. Michael Vaughan, Nasser Hussain and other batsmen, both in my team and against us, who had stood their ground in those “close” catching incidents were definitely a factor in what happened in the following seconds.

 

I had spent all summer wondering if it was possible to take ownership of these incidents and still be successful. I had wondered what I would do. I was about to find out.

 

The voice in my head was emphatic.

 

Go.  Walk.  And I did.

 

 

Legacy is all about respect.  Gilchrist is remembered as the man who walked.  He is not vilified for it.  Rather, the respect bestowed on Gilchrist is immeasurable.  He might’ve appealed when unsure about edges as a keeper, but he took ownership of the one facet of the game under his control.

 

He walked when he was caught.

 

His teammate, Andrew Symonds, obviously didn’t pay attention to Gilchrist’s honour or example.  In 2008, in a Test against India, Symonds hammered the ball to the keeper and stayed put when given not out.

 

He went on to make a big hundred.  As well as he played, that hundred is corrupted.

 

Symonds should’ve walked, as Marsh, Chappell, Langer and every other batsman who cheated should have.

 

Stuart Broad may be a fine bowler, but he can’t be trusted.  If England’s captain, Alistair Cook, doesn’t chastise the errant fast bowler, then he’s a captain that can’t be trusted.

 

That Aleem Dar made a mistake doesn’t make what Broad did right.  He has tainted his legacy, no matter how he performs across the rest of his career.

 

These incidents can no longer be written off as part of the game.  It is no longer acceptable for Test cricketers to flout the rules because the umpire makes a mistake.  There is too much evidence.

 

Myriad cameras and replays highlight the outrage.  The third umpire must be given power to overrule the umpires.  Otherwise, get rid of the referral system.

 

Broad, Test victory aside, must be having second thoughts about his decision not to walk.  He will be reminded about it for the rest of his life.

 

Had he walked, he would’ve been respected, as Gilchrist was, for playing cricket in the spirit of the game rather than in the spirit of Bodyline, or putting sticky, lolly saliva on the ball or using athletic, young fielders as the substitute.

Get the advantage anyway you can, as long as it is within the rules.

 

During the first Test, Stuart Broad gave England the winning edge.  It was without hint of sportsmanship, and that is a disgrace.

 

As Gilchrist found out, a cricketer can walk and still be successful.

 

Test cricketers must take heed from Broad and walk when they’re caught.  It isn’t gamesmanship.  It never was.  It is cheating, as it always has been.

 

 

About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…

Comments

  1. Matt – powerful argument. However, I reckon the cricketer who is most likely to walk is the one who has already succeeded. I’m not suggesting Gilchrist is an example of this (though maybe he is) but a batsman making his way in the game is far more likely to consider his cricket Australia contract and stand his ground, as opposed to the established player who can take the high moral ground.

    Personally I don’t have a huge problem with Broad. He rode his luck. The game is umpired within an inch of its life these days. If a player can survive a bad cll, then so be it. After all, its only a game.

  2. Stuart Broad is not a cheat, Matt. He is part of a malaise that has infected all sports. Broad has been vilified because the umpiring error was amplified by the nature of the dismissal. The edge went to the keeper, not first slip, but because it ricocheted from Haddin’s gloves to first slip, it is more damning dismissal than the 1000’s and 1000’s of edges that have previously gone undetected by umpires. Yes, I agree, the world would be a nicer place if batsmen all walked, but is that ever gonna happen? I think not, mate. As for calling people cheats in this situation, it’s just too strong a word for me. Cheat is better reserved for drug users, ball tamperers and other dastardness. But that’s just my opinion.

  3. Dips, you’re 100% on the money on the Gilchrist thing. It’s a lot easier to the high moral ground when you’ve got the runs on the board. Gilchrist only became a walker when he was the first guy picked in the team. That doesn’t make it any less noble, of course, but it certainly puts it into perspective.

  4. An issue for the Poms is the venom and anger with which they attacked Sri Lanka last year when a similar thing happened and a local bloke didn’t walk. Swann almost needed to be physically restrained on field and later talked about cheating and his disgust with not walking.

    Shoe on the other foot now and KP talks about playing the game hard and fair.I am Ok with the hard, just don’t insult us with the fair.

    My larger issue is that how could the umpire not have seen the edge in the first place.

    Mike refers to swings and roundabouts, and I agree. I recall Chappelli talking about what a character building game cricket is, in that you can be out of form looking for a big score, be given out first ball when you weren’t out, and you have to turn and walk off (not so much with referrals nowdays though)

    Overall, we picked up Trott frst ball on a bad DRS call, lost on Broad. Yes, Broad’s extra runs meant the difference, but had Trott stayed through what was a poor decision, he would have contributed.

    Bit like Hawkins hitting the post in the GF, he knew, took the poor call, not his job to point out the error, let the umpires decide.

    Personally, I wouldn’t have the gall or balls to stand there having nicked to first slip, maybe that’s why I am writing about it not playing.

  5. Interesting read. Surprised Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting didn’t make the list but maybe they were involved in too many such incidents to justify talking about just one!

    I don’t think it is fair to look at just Batsmen as cheats when they don’t walk for obvious edges.

    I’ve seen numerous instances of fielding teams going up for appeals when most of them Would have known full well that the batsman is not out. Gilchrist unfortunately has one of the guilty ones in this regard who has been part of planned orchestrated appeals – something the Australian team under Waugh and Ponting made an artform of – for caught behinds and LBW’s that he himself would have been most disappointed to be given out for if HE had been batting. As far as I’m concerned fielding teams also cheat and it’s this fraudulent behaviour – theft by deception, I call it – which eventually results in a mindset amongst batsmen that says ‘don’t walk’ when they’ve hit it.

    Some people might excuse such behaviour by fielding teams suggesting that in belter skelter of top level sport where these incidents last less than a second, they may not be sure and therefore need to ask the question.

    I take the view however that these are elite cricketers whose comprehension of time and space can be broken down to the smallest humanly discernible increments. 99% of the time, they KNOW what is out and what isn’t – even though Clarke’s poor use of DRS recently might have you believe otherwise.

    There was one Australian player who was above this type of cheating. I’ve seen numerous video clips and still photographs of Aussie teams in fits of mayhem imploring the umpire to give it out. But this particular player would not be part if it because he only appealed when it was out. It is fair to say he was more accurate than Hawkeye. He wasn’t the only one who had this level of feel for the game but he was the only one who stated true to it.

    If all fielding teams played the game to that level of ethics, only THEN could we justifiably expect batsmen to walk when they edge it – however remote a possibility that maybe in the professional era.

    That player, by they way ? Mark Waugh

  6. e.regnans says:

    Dips, Tbone, I’m with Matt here. Broad cheated. Maybe he’s not a cheat, but he cheated (differentiating the behaviour from the person).
    We have these problems, as I wrote elsewhere, in rules-based societies. When societies live by strictly enforced rules, members of those societies seek advantage via loop holes/ boundaries to push (broad, Hird, Armstrong, etc etc).
    When societies live by principles-based philosophy, these indiscretions disappear, or rather, fail to appear. We each know what is morally right & wrong. Our morals vary from person to person, resulting in three thousand shades of grey around each issue. But the principles based life is one well led. The dubious behaviour of an individual will not be tolerated by the society. The message will be: Change your game or find a new game.
    Broad cheated. Perhaps he only cheated himself. Perhaps he cheated the “spirit of cricket,” which until recently was a principles-based culture. (Now, regrettably, it is 100% rules based, with the DRS and whatnot). Perhaps he doesn’t even know it.
    A fair question now is: how does any rules-based society get its principles back?

  7. Hey e.regans

    Why is the blowtorch on Broad and not on every other player that hasn’t wallked? Haddin admitted today that he knew he was out. Why does he escape the microscope?

  8. Ahmed.

    Your Mark Waugh observation is an eagled eye one. I had never thought about it until this moment, but now that you have, I can recall image after image of Mark Waugh with his hands on his hips, when other aussies were falling all over themselves in vociferous appeal.

  9. e.regnans says:

    Ja. Ja, tbone.
    Haddin cheated too.
    Please don’t misinterpret this as a broadside. It goes way beyond parochialism.

    Good call Ahmed – I’ve had the Mark Waugh example shown to me before. It works.

  10. Hey E

    Fair enough, mate. Haddin “cheated” too, as has probably every cricketer that’s ever played. That being a given, it makes this editorial feeding franzy against Broad even more scandalous. Like, it shouldn’t be Broad on trial, it should be apathy. I think alot of people have lost sight of that.

  11. Anyone ever taken a liberty when completing their tax return? That’s cheating isn’t it?

  12. Beautiful Dips. Although, I doubt you’ll find many people admitting to that one (online that is.) The ATO’s web hackers would be all over it.

  13. Well written Matt, a strong argument. I want to agree with you, even now when I have finished sulking about our loss.
    I just need to overcome in the ingrained attitude of “getting away with as much as you can and let the umpire decide” drilled in to me from playing days.
    I give myself one year to change my attitude, then I will agree. :-)

  14. Within the context of life, I am the centrist pragmatist who can barely be bored to vote, the world at large can change and I don’t mind, I can evolve with it because I’ve never understood it in the first place.

    But within the context of sports, I’m a borderline war criminal – I am the most reactionary sports fan I know. I understood sports when I was 8 and I need those laws to remain in place because these principles are static.

    The things I have always known are that whoever I barrack against are evil — ergo Essendon is a fully-functioning laboratory experiment and the England cricket team are a bunch of pompous, pious, cheating pricks.

  15. In the context that its all pantomine, I almost agree. What’s missing for me is that they’re pompous, pious arsehole f@#*^g cheats. A subtle difference.

    On Essendon … well, that hate is beyond pantomine. It’s as real as Charles Bronson’s hate when avenging the murder of his loved ones against a crime syndicate. Multiplied by a hundred hundredths.

  16. ‘Death Wish’ is a really good analogy to draw. Bronson’s actions and extremist views are not philosophies, they are visceral responses to painful, unthinkable memories. When he starts to shoot random stickup artists, he is not following his mind, he is following his heart — I think most sports fans can relate to this emotive antilogic.

  17. Litza that’s wonderfully funny

  18. e.regnans says:

    Yep, tax returns, standing your ground after a wee snick, appealing a wicket you know is not out, grabbing the opponent’s jumper to prevent the lead, riding through a red light, parking in a clearway to grab some milk, sheeeesh.
    We probably all cheat.
    “always back the horse named Self Interest, son. It will be the only one trying.” – NSW Labor Premier Jack Lang.
    Not Cheating has to look more attractive than Cheating for this self interest thing to stand up. I think that’s where public opprobrium comes in.
    Interesting, this human nature.

  19. ian syson says:

    My young boy came off the field last season (aged 11) after compulsorily retiring on 25 telling me that he had nicked one and was given not out. He wondered what he should have done. I said he should do what he thinks is right in that situation.

    The following week he nicked one again and the umpire looked to be giving him not out so he toddled off of his own volition. I was very proud of him but I was also troubled knowing that he was setting himself up for an imbalance between his swings and his roundabouts. The last time he was out he was lbw to a ball he had nicked and was distressed by the unfairness of it all.

    His older brother (by 4 years) said after the walking incident, “you idiot!” The older one generally walks in a Broad situation (when not walking makes you look like a wanker) and stays in a Haddin situation forcing the umpire to make the decision.

  20. Remember those Americans who would ask “What would Jesus do?” Haven’t heard much about them lately . Suspect they found some of the answers inconvenient. So let’s get more contemporary and closer to home . What would KRudd do ? He’d walk , but immediately start conspiring to get the umpire sacked. What would Abbott do ? He’d deny the ball had been bowled.

  21. Matty Q says:

    Don’t kid yourselves that this argument is even happening in England. Broad is a hero there, as he would be if he played for Australia (shudder). I didn’t realise how racist I was until the start if these Ashes. I fucking hate the Poms. Now let’s kick their pompous arses any way we can!

  22. Matty – The Poms said that when Swann covertly sprayed a mysterious substance on his hands in the first test he was merely drying them. I would have thought a towel would do that job. Why the spray? Why the spray in secret? Smells as bad as an English shower block.

    Ball tampering, applying banned substances – now that’s cheating.

  23. I was more annoyed with his shoe stunt 2 minutes before lunch. The missed edge was good luck to him: following it up with obvious poor gamesmanship said to me that he is someone who is prepared to do whatever it takes to win. As such, whether he is a cheat or not depends on which side your allegiances lie.

  24. Peter Flynn says:

    WG Grace

  25. Honor on the sporting pitch/field is all but a lost art. Pushing the limits, looking for an edge, rationalizing bad calls in your favor? That’s the baseline. I applaud the principle, Matt, except that I can’t accept that he cheated Australia out of the Test win. Though the extra runs were more than the final margin of defeat, there’s really no way to tell what would have happened had he walked. Sports are played in the moment; strategies and mindsets change based on score and time and effectiveness. How much would have changed if he had walked? Basically everything in terms of attitude and, for that matter, the course of this thread. And the result might not have changed. We’ll never know.

  26. If Haddin had snaffled it instead of flapping it to slip, it would just be another one of the litany of bad decisions/poor choices made by umps and players. Not Broad’s fault it ended up with Clarke.

    But I think the passion is fantastic, more petrol on the fire of the oldest sporting enmity in the world etc. If we are going to have Tests that good throughout the series then the Englander pig dogs can pull all the filthy tricks they like.

  27. 4boat

    Yeah the passion is fantastic. The Ashes were a non event 1990 – 2004. It was like Geelong v GWS infinitum. Great the English are back to their dastardly best. No one does panto dastardly as well as they do.

  28. Matty Q says:

    I’m sure Swan”s turned up collar is cheating too.

  29. Yep T Bone. There was a certain kind of pleasure in winning 5-0 in the McGrath era. But I don’t think winning by an innings would have compared to the feeling if we had pulled off that run chase the other night.

    Pete – the shoe thing was hilarious. It said to me “I, Stuart Broad, have been handed the black cape and handlebar moustache of the villain and I am going to wear them proudly”.

    Always hated his dad too – largely because of his hair.

  30. Sorry T bone, disagree strongly re the Ashes being a non event 1990-2004 . The period from 1989 was fantastic, we had the best team/players in the world, and giving it to the English was greatly savoured. I recall series like 1977, 1978-79, 1985, etc, when they beat us. They had no wish for close matches, all that mattered to them was beating us. For me the greatest Ashes series i can recall were 1974-75, 1989, and 2006-07 when we caned them. lt is about winning.

    4boat, Chris Broad had moments of on field controversy, especially in the 1987-88 summer. Umpiring related petulance in Pakistan, smashing the stumps in Sydney, whilst batting. Now he’s a referee ! What’s that about poachers being the best gatekeepers

    Glen

  31. Hey Glen

    Agree that it was great winning 1989 and the next couple of series, but it just got so one sided after that. One team dominatiing for over 10 years is not good for the game, by my reckoning. But happy to be strongly disagrred with, as after what happened in 81 and 85, we really owed them some pain.

  32. Mark Doyle says:

    This is another stupid, ridiculous, irrational and hysterical essay on this website, which demonstrates that the author has no appreciation and understanding of the culture, ethics and etiquette of cricket. Most of the comments also show an ignorance of this culture and again demonstrates that our contemporary society are intellectual morons who prefer an absolute result.
    The issue about walking in cricket is a nonsense and people are confused because of the arrogant opinions of dickheads such as Adam Gilchrist, who have not thought about the ramifications of his opinions on the history and culture of cricket. I heard someone say on either the FoxSports ‘Cricket Show’ or the ABC Grandstand say a few years ago that Gilchrist’s attitude and opinion on ‘walking’ was not accepted by his captain Steve Waugh and other team mates because it was anathema to the culture of cricket.
    This is an example of media organisations having influence on the game of cricket with gimmick technology, which is almost always inconclusive.

  33. Mark

    My hunch is that you were a kindergarden teacher in a former life. Your specialty: nurturing budding young talent.

  34. I have only read the first stanza and I was asleep when Broad was “not out”.
    But “refusing to walk” is when you are given out and sook.
    His crime was a form of gamesmanship but he would have “walked” if given out.
    Australia lucked out on DRS reviews. It happens. “So be it”!

  35. Iron Mike, you have been “Doyled”. Welcome to the club.

  36. Mark – brilliant stuff. I’m glad you’ve excluded my comments from the comments which,

    “…demonstrates that the author has no appreciation and understanding of the culture, ethics and etiquette of cricket. Most of the comments also show an ignorance of this culture and again demonstrates that our contemporary society are intellectual morons who prefer an absolute result.”

  37. Paul Daffey says:

    One of the ways that cricket sets itself apart is that it has so many unwritten laws.

    Walking, giving the batsman at the non-striker’s end a warning, not appealing (unless really peeved) if the batsman handles the ball, no bouncers to tail-enders.

    The saying “it’s just not cricket” is well-founded.

    It’s rooted in the English system of fair play. But it seems to me it’s a’s also rooted in a class thing – where the gentleman have the moral upper hand.

    Let the players play and the umpires umpire.

  38. Litza, your work has ‘wordsmith’ written all over it. Brilliant, thought-provoking, entertaining.

    Are you related to Sam Kekovich by any chance?

  39. Steve Fahey says:

    A really interesting topic and conversation. I have no problems with what Broad did or didn’t do, as others have pointed out he was not the only batsman to not walk when he knew he wasn’t out. Also, as has been pointed out, he did NOT knick it to slip.

    I was having a conversation on the weekend with some friends with no more than a peripheral interest in cricket who were outraged by Broad. I told them that one of the first things I got taught playing cricket was to always abide by the umpire’s decision. If you’re given out, get off, if you’re not given out, get on with it. In suburban cricket you get wrongly given out a lot more than given fortunate reprieves, so it made sense to me, as well as being repectful to umpires. It’s different in elite cricket, especially with the much-flawed DRS.

    As others have noted, there are a million other ways in which honesty/fairness is breached in cricket – bowlers and fielders appealing when they know it’s not out and non-strikers beinga metre or two down the wicket when the bowler releases the ball, including in the Trent Bridge test.

    The biggest test for the non-walkers , i.e. 99% of cricketers, is making sure that they leave qucikly and without dissent when they are given out when they are not out. In elite cricket, assuming India is not playing, players will use the DRS if challenges are available, but if they are not, get off when given out.

    The other issue is consistency -Swann’s carry-on in Sri Lanka last year was at odds with his position here.

  40. Stan the Man says:

    Fine tune the DRS or get rid of it. What about if each batsman gets the benefit of ONE challenge, and the Fielding team can then also have only ONE challenge per batsman. So what if it is time consuming…geez the match goes on for 5 days !!! Make it up by adding extra overs at the end of the day. We never had this problem when playing the “Test matches” in the back yard when we were kids….if you didnt walk the bowling only got faster and more acurately aimed at your legs !!!!

  41. mike holliday says:

    Australians are either the most short-memoried or the most hypocritical sporting fans in the world.
    Australia’s track record on `walking’ is long and inglorious and includes a skipper who basically ordered his players not to walk, delcaring that it was a matter for the umpires and if they got it wrong, too bad.
    i

  42. How about just one challenge per side all up? Then maybe they’d use it more judiciously?

    Although with Shane Watson at the top of the order, you’d suspect he’d blow it on a perfectly reasonable LBW call before the shine was off the ball.

  43. Ahmed, no relation to Sam, although we share a characteristic of lurching into a get-off-my-lawn-churl – although his are a little more polished and commercial.

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