The Ashes: Stuart Broad and England's amnesia

Broad Jr should be handed a ban by the ICC and subjected to a censure of sorts by his England bosses. Here's why...

Updated: July 15, 2013 14:24 IST
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The funny thing about a knee-jerk reaction is that it often comes back to haunt you. Graeme Swann must have probably realised that by now. And although the Trent Bridge Test gave us so many fascinating cricketing moments, it's not possible to step away from the Stuart Broad incident yet. If anything, it was the one dish that spoilt an otherwise outstanding buffet and an outstanding advertisement for cricket. Not just Test cricket, but all cricket.

The mind goes back to many incidents, but three in particular will, hopefully, help me explain my position on this.

The first is from March 2012, when - in a game I didn't see but read about - England XI were playing against a Sri Lanka Board President's team in Colombo. Dilruwan Perera had, by all accounts, sent a fairly meaty edge off James Anderson to Andrew Strauss at slip. The umpire was unsighted and Perera refused to walk, which meant he was given not out.

Several England players had a go at Perera on the field and were clearly upset enough to offer a few choice words to journalists afterwards. Swann led the way, saying: "The thing that annoyed me was that the batsman stood there knowing 100% he was out but chose to cheat. But we live in an age where cheating is accepted in our game. If you don't walk and get away with it, no one seems to say anything. I don't agree with that."

The second - which Anand Vasu talked about after the third day of the Trent Bridge game - has to do with Ian Bell's dismissal-that-wasn't, at the same venue, against India in 2011.

And the third is the debate involving Denesh Ramdin, against Pakistan, at the Champions Trophy in England last month. Ramdin claimed a catch a lot of people felt he knew wasn't clean. He was banned for two One-Day Internationals. The fact that Chris Broad, Stuart's father, was match referee on that occasion is a coincidence.

But drawing from these three incidents, I would, personally, like the following to happen sooner rather than later (maybe even before this article reaches you):

Swann should make himself accessible to the media and offer to contradict what Kevin Pietersen said on Friday: "We play fair and each individual has the responsibility and makes the judgement if he will wait for the umpire's decision."

Pietersen's take negates Swann's view from just over a year ago. So Swann should either declare that the crevice he was speaking through in Colombo wasn't his mouth, or proclaim now that Broad and Pietersen were right and a player is under no obligation to be honest.

Broad Jr should be handed a ban by the ICC and subjected to a censure of sorts by his England bosses. The reasons being that (1) Broad "stood there knowing 100% he was out but chose to cheat", (2) he belongs to a team that believes in fair play but failed, at least on this occasion, to uphold the standards of his team, and (3) the International Cricket Council doesn't take kindly to offences of this kind as it proved with the Ramdin issue.

A third thing should happen: The ICC must at least give us a sense that it doesn't like statements such as the one Swann made in Colombo.The Guardian quoted Swann as having said at the time: "I wanted to kill the batsman because he was cheating."

If I were Stuart Broad, I would be rather worried around now. Oh, but the weekend's past and Swann hasn't done anything yet ....

But, more than anything else, we must look at two specific things - one that can be addressed and one that might never be.

The one that can be dealt with is the somewhat vague and entirely useless thing called Spirit of Cricket. That's not the sort of thing that helps professional sportspersons achieve what they are paid to achieve - win. Although introduced only a decade or so ago, it's a relic of an era when amateur sportspersons supposedly played for the joy of it and WG Grace walked off the field each time he was dismissed. It just doesn't work that way in professional sport. Cricket isn't an amateur sport anymore and it's best everyone realises that and moves on.

Bunk spirit. Skills of Cricket is the only important thing and, yes, the equivalent of diving in football is okay if you can get away with it. If you don't, you'll be punished. Or perhaps attempt the impossible: Make everyone, at all times, play fair.

The thing that can't be dealt with is that, while you can't force people to do the right thing all the time, you ought to be able to force them to be consistent. You can't be silent on Broad while asking for Perera to walk or Ramdin to not claim the catch or for Bell to be allowed to come back to bat after lunch. If one of them was guilty, they were all guilty. And, with multiple cameras, sniffer dogs and much else watching every moment of what the players do on the field these days, if the bosses can't catch them, it's really not the players' problem.

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