Rob Houwing

Prize pratt: Stuart Broad

2010-01-18 15:45
Rob Houwing (file)
Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Every Tom, Dick and Harry seemed to get an award of some sort at the conclusion of the final Test of the enthralling series between South Africa and England.

Why, even ailing Proteas batsman Ashwell Prince got onto the post-match podium at the Wanderers on Sunday: I’ve forgotten the real reason, but was tempted to think it was some sort of “we know you’re not crazy about opening and we’re especially sorry you got so many jaffas in the series” consolation prize.

Of course there were some slightly more deserving recipients of laurels, too, like Mark Boucher and Graeme Swann, who shared player-of-the-series – no major gripes about that, eh?

Considering the mass procession of players to and from the presentations microphone, I’d have sorely wanted to add another mantle … for prize pratt of the summer.

And the unanimous winner, I’m absolutely certain, would have been England all-rounder Stuart Broad.

Heck, you’d be surprised how much support you might have mustered even from English circles for that status to be bestowed on the lanky, baby-faced customer.

In general terms, it was a corker of a series between two mostly hard-nosed sides who, in various respects, probably gained new admiration for each other – let’s not forget that there have been many flashpoints between them in the past.

Broad, sadly, was a notable exception to any warming trend: barely a Test (barely a day’s play, even) appeared to go by without the 23-year-old spitting his dummy.

It seemed a cheap shot recently when Indian icon Sunil Gavaskar had a public go at the youngster for his often petulant on-field conduct, implying into the bargain that he enjoyed some sort of “immunity from prosecution”, if you like, because his father Chris is a long-serving ICC Test match referee.

Today many people may be more, rather than less, inclined to concur with Sunny’s viewpoint, whether it is significantly wide of the mark or not.

For Broad did very little over the course of the four-Test series to dispel any thought that where there’s smoke there may just be a semblance of fire.

He was in the standing umpires’ faces pretty often with “queries” (careful Stu, you never know what might happen with that next 50-50 lbw call against you …), he was all too routinely one of the first England players on the balcony to express overly animated dismay whenever a review decision went against his team, he was at the centre of the “stand-on-the-ball” matter -- which admittedly really turned into a storm in a teacup -- and then crowned it all with his tardy arrival at and scowling exit from the crease in England’s last innings at the Wanderers.

Commentator Kepler Wessels isn’t normally the sort to get too carried away in strong language, but he branded it “absolutely unacceptable” when Broad first took an eternity to emerge from the pavilion and then walked to the middle as though he was chief monitor of a centipede race.

Colleague Robin Jackman - once an England player, remember - branded his conduct “childish”.

To compound matters, when Broad was correctly given out on review – there seemed no doubt at all he had deflected a Morne Morkel delivery behind off the “sausage” of his glove – he looked as indignant as Schabir Shaik might in being paparazzi-snapped carrying a box of deep-pan pizza.

What gives Broad the right to be protester-in-chief in the England team is difficult to ascertain: he is a 26-capper in the side, putting him much lower on the hierarchical pecking order than any of, say, Messrs Strauss, Pietersen, Collingwood or Anderson.

And it is not as though he backed up his penchant for “verbals” and tantrums with weight of personal performance in the series.

He averaged a so-so 33.46 with the ball, although it is true that in Durban he decimated the Proteas’ middle-order in their disastrous second innings.

And with the blade he took worryingly backward steps for a No 8 supposedly being groomed for duty one spot higher: he managed only 76 runs in seven knocks at 10.85, with a top score of 25: poor for a player capable of really princely drives, especially, when he is on song.

Maybe it doesn’t require my South African voice to complete the Stuart Broad behavioural appraisal.

Here’s what another former England all-rounder, Derek Pringle, said in Monday’s Daily Telegraph: “It is considered dissent, and a violation of ICC’s Code of Conduct for a batsman to shake his head or show any delay in leaving the crease after he has been given out.

“Broad senior is an ICC match referee and if Roshan Mahanama doesn’t punish junior for Sunday’s appalling behaviour, then his father should take the appropriate paternal action.

“Someone needs to ensure Broad complements his obvious talents for batting and bowling with a dose of humility.”

Anyone agree?


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