Saturday 26 May 2018

Cricket: Brazen Broad gives English crucial edge

Stuart Broad remains unmoved as Phil Hughes, Michael Clarke, Ed Cowan, wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and Ashton Agar of
Australia appeal unsuccessfully for his dismissal at Trent Bridge
Stuart Broad remains unmoved as Phil Hughes, Michael Clarke, Ed Cowan, wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and Ashton Agar of Australia appeal unsuccessfully for his dismissal at Trent Bridge

After the hurly burly of the first two days, this match was settling down into something approaching traditional Test cricket when Stuart Broad did that most Australian of things: he edged a catch and did not walk.

At that point, Australia's indignation reached a pitch not seen since Ricky Ponting was run out here eight years ago by 12th man Gary Pratt, and the match gained the animosity absent during the opening act.

Ponting's run-out, which had the added theatre of his tirade against England coach Duncan Fletcher, was widely regarded as one of the major turning points of that series.

This moment was less crucial with England in a strong, though not entirely unassailable, position.

Ian Bell was on 77 and the lead was 232. A quick mop-up of the tail would have made for a good contest today, an ambition that had receded by the close when Bell and Broad had extended their partnership to 108 and their team's lead to 261.

DANCE

Most international cricketers do not walk, as Michael Clarke and his team are aware, though few perhaps dance with the devil as willingly as Broad did, such was the obviousness of the edge.

Predictably, after the loud complaints made by England the previous day about Jonathan Trott's lbw (which came off an inside edge) and Matt Prior's stumping of Ashton Agar when he was on six, Australia saw the futility in escalating the hostility and played the incident down.

Agar was bowling his left-arm spin into the rough outside off stump when Broad stepped back to cut, the ball taking an edge thick enough to strike wicketkeeper Brad Haddin on the thigh before ricocheting to Clarke at slip. It was so obvious that Sky's graphics man had already changed the scoreboard to read 297-7 – that was quickly rejigged when Aleem Dar's finger stayed down.

Regular onlookers wonder how Dar, one of the most highly respected of umpires on the International Cricket Council's elite panel, could have missed such an obvious deflection.

He may have been fooled into thinking, not least by Broad's brazen poker face, that the main deflection had come not off the bat but Haddin's thigh.

To make matters worse, Broad, along with Bell, was later given an official warning by the umpires for running on the pitch, a double dose of gamesmanship from the fast bowler on his home ground.

Australia's disbelief was obvious from the way they appealed twice, once as a formality at the obviousness of it all, the second time in that panicked way that suggested Franz Kafka had suddenly taken up umpiring and that it was all some grand conspiracy against them.

The matter would have been easily settled, in theory, had they been able to review the decision but Clarke had used up his team's second and final review on an optimistic lbw shout from Shane Watson against Bell. The ball, swinging down leg, would not have hit another set of stumps but Clarke, perhaps wanting to appease a man with whom he has not been on best terms, asked for a referral.

Bell took control after captain Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen had added 110 runs for the third wicket to settle any immediate nerves after they resumed the day on 80-2, just 15 runs ahead.

His classic technique kept him safe on a pitch that has slowed but on which variable bounce off the cracks and turn out of the bowlers' footholes offered occasional peril. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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