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Same old Broady, always bleating: Hard to take Stuart's 'absolute disgrace' claims seriously

2nd November, 2023
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2nd November, 2023
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Even in retirement, Stuart Broad is stoking the flames of the Ashes rivalry but it’s hard to lend too much credence to his latest claims about ripping into Pat Cummins over the Jonny Bairstow stumping incident. 

Now that he’s in the warm comforts of the retirement lounge where he will never have to face up to another bouncer from a fired-up Australian fast bowler, Broad didn’t take long to take a free swing. 

And in the off-field theatre of cricket, Broad’s sneering villain persona is needed amid the humdrum cliches that are often trotted out by the game’s modern stars. 

But does he think he’s pulled the wool over anyone’s eyes with his version of events which he aired on the the Up Front podcast

Broad set the scene for his recollection by saying he sat down after seeing the initial appeal on the dressing room TV thinking there was no way Bairstow was going to be given out stumped by Alex Carey because he hadn’t tried to gain an advantage by leaving his crease.

“What set me off is I walked through the Long Room which is normally like ‘good luck, have a great’ and one of the members was looking out the window and just turned around to me and goes ‘absolute disgrace!’.

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“I would say mindset’s a strength of mind and I’ve learned to be very controlled with what I’m doing but that word just turned me into … I just had red mist for 10 minutes.”

If mindset was a particular strength of Broad over his decorated career, all it took was for one old codger in his egg and bacon MCC get-up to turn him into a white-hot rage? Right.

“So I walked past Jonny and normally the out batter you’d go ‘What do you think, is it swinging mate, how are you feeling?’ He was just snorting, staring at the floor like a raging bull. Didn’t even look at me and that revved me up as well.” 

Hmm, mindset control eh?

“So as I’m walking out to bat at Lord’s and there’s boos going at the Aussies, the captain Pat Cummins is coming on to bowl so he’s walking towards me to the end of his mark.

“And I just looked at him and said, ‘You’re an absolute disgrace’. He said, ‘Oh yeah, you’re hardly an upkeep of the spirit of cricket’.”

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Even the many Cummins critics in Australia will be proud of the skipper for this retort, like when Michael Clarke, who was a much more polarising captain, told James Anderson “to get ready for a broken fuckin’ arm” during a tense mid-pitch exchange a decade ago.

How dare the current Aussie skipper have the temerity to make a sly dig at Broad for infamously snicking Ashton Agar to slip in the 2013 Ashes and not upholding the “spirit of cricket” by walking when the umpire ruled not out.

“So that upset me a bit,” Broad continued. 

Where’s that mindset control when you need it? It’s always in the last place you look.

“So then the next 10 minutes became me being very facetious and shouting in every time which I had huge regrets about that night. I was hugely embarrassed about it but I had no real control over what I was doing.”

Right, so “hugely embarrassed” that he waited nearly five months to say so. 

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If only Broad had a weekly newspaper column during the Ashes to express his contrition earlier. The editors at the Daily Mail won’t be too happy that he kept this to himself. 

In his column after the Second Test incident at Lord’s conceded, the closest Broad came to contrition was a brief mention that he “may have been a bit silly” in shouting in every time he grounded his bat over the crease. 

Broad admitted that joining in the “Same old Aussies, always cheating” chants with the crowd was his way of agitating the Australians because he could sense they were getting nervous as he and Ben Stokes mounted an ultimately unsuccessful partnership in their fourth-innings run-chase.

England's Stuart Broad grounds his bat as Australia's Marnus Labuschagne and Alex Carey (right) look on during day five of the second Ashes test match at Lord's, London. Picture date: Sunday July 2, 2023. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

England’s Stuart Broad grounds his bat as Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne and Alex Carey look on. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

“Pat went over to long-on, way away from me and the crowd are booing him when he walked out and I’m shouting from 60 metres ‘Pat, Pat, all these boos, they are for you, mate. All of them’.

“Started off as a red mist and then I tweaked it into an advantage of we’ve got them by the balls here a little bit, how long can I make this carry on?

“It made the series, to be honest. We galvanised around it.”

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This is the closest Broad comes to sincerity in the interview – he’s admitting he was fully aware of what he was doing.

Good on him for trying whatever he could when his team was in a near-hopeless situation but don’t try to tell us that he carried on like a pork chop all because of one entitled MCC member getting red-faced over the stumping controversy. 

This from the player who had tried to claim in the lead-up to the Ashes that the previous series in Australia was “void” because the English touring squad had been forced to endure the horrors of Covid biosecurity measures, which often meant being put up at a fancy hotel away from the great unwashed of the general public. 

Jonny Bairstow looks frustrated after being run out by Alex Carey.

Jonny Bairstow looks frustrated after being dismissed by Alex Carey. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Also in the in-depth podcast chat, Broad concedes he has no idea what the spirit of cricket is supposed to represent even though the England camp accused the Australians of not upholding its principles. 

“I was hoping you were going to have a definition because I have no idea,” he replies to host Simon Jordan’s query about it. “I got embroiled in the spirit of cricket argument when I nicked the ball and didn’t walk against Australia. 

“It’s a trait of 99% of cricketers … 21 players out of 24 in 10 Test matches nicked the ball and didn’t walk in that period of time, in the two Ashes series (of 2013-14),” he added with dubious mathematical prowess. 

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“You let the umpires make the decision. In football if you make a bad tackle, do you think actually ref I think that’s a red, I’m off. Well, I’ve only given you a yellow. No, I’m off. 

“I don’t think anyone necessarily knows exactly what (the spirit of cricket) is. 

“The Jonny Bairstow run-out at Lord’s is a very different thing because it’s bad form, potentially, but I viewed it as the wrong thing to give him out because if you pause the telly when the ball hits the stumps, one of the umpires has got his cap out ready to give back to the bowler and the other one is walking to his mark. 

“I don’t think it’s a spirit of cricket decision to give him out, I think it’s the wrong decision.”

Just when you thought Broady was starting to sound sincere, he’s got this all ballsed up. The ball was not dead when Carey caught it and immediately underarmed at the stumps, just like it wasn’t when Bairstow tried the same tactic unsuccessfully to dismiss Marnus Labuschagne earlier in the match. 

This won’t be the last we hear from the various on-field combatants about this incident by a long stretch.

Broad actually made more insightful comments earlier in the podcast interview when he spoke about the highs and lows of his career. 

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He spoke of developing a thick skin and greater attention to detail in his pre-match routines after Indian power hitter Yuvraj Singh pasted the young English seamer for six sixes in an over at the T20 World Cup in 2007.

“What did I lack here? I lacked a routine, I lacked certain balls to get me out of trouble if one ball isn’t working. I remember being so energetic into what’s my next move to improve me as a player, whereas I’m sure a lot of players would have folded into a hole and never wanted the ball again,” he said.

“Watching all the players that have had longevity in cricket and been successful, it’s all mindset. So for me I had this thing called ‘warrior mode’ that I built from this period of suffering knowing I had to improve. I built a mentality around me that looked after me in pressure scenarios. 

“When I’d grown that mentality over a period of time, I sought pressure scenarios, I wanted them because I knew I had something to protect me.”

Alas, this protection mechanism was nowhere to be found when his mate in the Long Room arced up. 

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