Critical Ashes moment: Should Stuart Broad have walked?

Critical Ashes moment: Should Stuart Broad have walked?

by Alan Flook

London | 20 Sept 2013

Was Stuart Broad doing the right thing to stand his ground during a crucial period in the 1st Ashes Test at Trent Bridge as he edged spinner Ashton Agar to slip? After this reprieve, Broad and Ian Bell dug England out of a hole with a fighting stand as England went onto win the crucial 1st Test and eventually take the 2013 Ashes series.

It has been many years since it was automatic for a batsman to walk when a ball was taken off an edge. This was largely a British thing surrounding the concept of ‘Sportsmanship’. It was never a part of the general Aussie approach or, indeed, in the UK at the professional level. Obviously there were notable exceptions in all the major test playing nations and they were very praiseworthy. This has now been reinforced by the 'Broad incident'.

Cricketers will now take it as part of the laws of the game to wait for the umpire's decision and indeed the laws are written in a way to reinforce that approach. That is all well and good as long as the players conform to their part of the bargain - accepting the decision without argument or dissent. That will not be easy for the players and will also prove even more problematical for umpires especially at the ’recreational’ level where 99% of cricket is played.

Changing values

The 'old school' umpires will still have the concepts of honesty, sportsmanship and integrity firmly embedded in their psyche and will, at the back of their minds, have the idea that batsmen should and would assist by walking when they know they should be dismissed. It will not be an easy transition to the position where help from a batsman will be most unlikely and regarded by captains as a dereliction of duty.

Where the authorities may need to get involved is by taking a very firm stance on instances where an umpire's decision is queried in a less than civilized manner – all too regular at all levels of the game.

It cannot be right for players to have both the 'benefit' of not walking as well as the stance of non acceptance of what they insist on - an umpire's decision.

Adapting to new standards

Umpires must adapt to this new norm but insist on acceptance of decisions and not accept any negative response and they must get the backing of the authorities at all levels.

I hope this new scenario is not allowed to deteriorate into a 'them and us' situation between players and umpires and all feasible steps must be taken to ensure this is not the case. We are all there for the same purpose – enjoying a game of cricket.

Cricket will undoubtedly ride this current ‘difficulty’ with the minimum of interference from above. In fact the series between England and Australia in which this incident occurred was certainly not devalued in any way by this aspect – DRS and its use easily trumped that and must be reviewed as a matter of urgency.


About the Author:

Alan Flook retired from umpiring in 2012 after 23 years in the Middlesex County Cricket league and a few years on the County Second Eleven list. More recently he was an umpire tutor, preparing new umpires for their exams and is presently an assessor as part of the umpire grading process. He is the current Chairman of the Middlesex knockout cricket cup.



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