England bowler Stuart Broad has fuelled the wrath of his Australian rivals ahead of the final Ashes Test by finally admitting he did edge the ball that sparked a walking controversy during the opening clash at Trent Bridge.
Broad is currently the hate figure of Australian cricket fans after he stood his ground despite an obvious edge during the first Test, and he confessed for the first time on Monday he was aware he should have been given out. Chris Barrett of Australian outlet The Age provides the quotes:
I knew I'd hit it.
It was an odd one. There was no particular noise.
It was noise off (Brad) Haddin's gloves. It is silly when people say it was nicked to slip because it was en edge to the 'keeper’s gloves that flew to slip. I went down to the other end and 'Belly' (Ian Bell) had not heard anything. (Ashton) Agar asked me if I had nicked it because he was not sure. It was not as clear-cut as everyone thought.
England boast an unassailable 3-0 lead over their Ashes rivals with one Test to play, which begins at the Oval on Wednesday.
However, Barrett claims Broad “set the tone for a campaign riddled by umpiring errors” when he stood his ground after edging an Ashton Agar delivery, knowing Australia were unable to review after he was given not out by umpire Aleem Dar.
The Decision Review System later came under fire when Usman Khawaja was given out caught behind off Graeme Swann despite replays providing no evidence of any connection between ball and bat. According to the Metro's Daniel Jones, Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd labelled it “one of the worst cricket umpire decisions I’ve ever seen.”
A sour-tempered series has limped from one controversy to the next, with England players forced to defend themselves against accusations of tampering with their bat, yet it is Broad’s decision not to walk—deemed to be against the spirit of the game—that still attracts plenty of criticism, which he feels is unfair according to his comments in The Age:
You look through the series and look at the Australian players who have nicked it and not walked you could name (David) Warner, (Chris) Rogers, Khawaja, (Steven) Smith, Haddin, (Michael) Clarke, Agar. That's quite a lot of players for it to be a big issue.
On the same topic, he goes on to say in The Guardian:
The whole walking debacle I thought was pretty poor journalism because it was just one player who was picked up. I have named seven or eight Australians and four Englishmen where that has not happened. That stuff I hear is just embarrassing.
Part of the reason for the focus on Broad is that England eventually won that opening Test by 14 runs, handing them crucial momentum in the series. But the fast bowler, who took 11 wickets in the win at Durham last week, insists he does not mind attracting abuse from Australian supporters:
When you play against any side in the world their fans want their side to win so they are never complimentary but the Aussies have not taken to well to being beaten. It is all good fun.
I expect to get a bit of gyp from the Aussie crowd if Twitter is anything to go by. It is quite exciting. I thrive off that sort of thing. It is only sport and a bit of banter. It is nice. You don’t want the Aussies loving you because it probably means you are rubbish.
And Broad warned England’s future rivals to expect gamesmanship from Andy Flower’s men, insisting it is their competitiveness and lack of gentlemanly conduct that has made them one of the world’s best Test sides in the aforementioned Guardian article:
One thing about this England team is we are tough. We come through tricky times and we stand up and want to be counted. It is quite an un-English thing that this team has got. We want that to continue. We do have a win-at-all-costs mentality.
We have been accused of all sorts. Those sorts of things are not remembered. It is winning the series that will be remembered. I certainly think we are an unpleasant team to play against at the minute. Teams will not come and play against us and enjoy the experience, which is what we want.
England’s mental toughness will be put to the test again over the next five days when, having already wrapped up a series win, they have the chance to rub salt into their rivals’ wounds by completing a 4-0 triumph.