Poll: Should England’s Stuart Broad have walked against Australia in the first Ashes Test?
- Credit: PA
I have a confession to make. It's been a spectre haunting me for more than 40 years and it flooded back last week when Stuart Broad refused to walk even though it was clear to everyone except umpire Aleem Dar that he had edged it.
My Broad moment came when as a 17-year-old aspiring club cricket wicketkeeper I fumbled a throw in from the boundary and broke the stumps with my gloves rather than the ball with the batsman well out of his ground.
The batsman was a gnarled 50-something who knew a thing or two. 'Did you take that cleanly?' he whispered.
I had a split second to make up my mind. In the clatter of wickets, bails and gloves no-one else had noticed my ham-fisted take.'Yes', I told him, and off he walked.
But there was just that moment when his eyes met mine, when for a heartbeat that lasted a 100 years he gave me a look of disgust, and I knew that he knew. For the first and only time in my cricket life, I had cheated.
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I played club and village cricket for 30-odd years, and I've always remembered that withering moment when I let down the spirit of the sport I hold dear. I've walked ever since, and I've never claimed a catch I didn't take cleanly.
I'm not blaming Broad – no-one else seems to be, not least the notoriously non-walking Aussies. Brad Haddin stayed his ground for that final feather of an edge that went upstairs to decide the outcome of a remarkable Ashes Test on Sunday.
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I suspect, just like Broad, he knew he was out.
It's just that some things in life are important. And upholding timeless standards is one of them.
As with schoolboy footballers who now regularly ape their idols by diving in the box, I hope Broad's 'professionalism' doesn't catch on.