Stuart Broad: spoiled brat or hero?

Stuart Broad is cricketing Marmite. His petty tantrums and unnecessary outbursts divide England supporters: some of us believe his aggression is a healthy thing , while others reckon he should concentrate on taking wickets and winning cricket matches rather than slanging matches with batsmen and umpires. So where do you draw the line between out-and-out abuse, and controlled, positive aggression?

Sledging has been a part of the game ever since the days of WG Grace, but there’s banter and then there’s abuse – two entirely different things.  And when players like Stuart Broad use offensive language towards match officials, you know that barrier has been breached.

I suppose it’s refreshing to see  cricketers show passion and desire on the cricket field. It adds to the competitive spirit and spreads through the whole team. Everybody wants to win. But I don’t feel comfortable with Broad’s attitude, especially as in the last twelve months when he has so often found himself in trouble with match referees. During last year’s Edgbaston Test he was fined fifty per cent of his match-fee for hurling a ball at Pakistan’s wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider. And he received the same punishment last week after abusing  umpire Billy Bowden during the second ODI of the current Sri Lanka series at Headingley. As legend has it, Broad reacted to a declined LBW appeal by telling Bowden, “you must be ****ing joking”. Not acceptable, really.

If Broad had been taking more wickets this summer, I doubt he’d have stooped so low. Unfortunately, his poor form and build-up of pressure acted as the trigger, as it so often does to sportsmen in the modern day. Perhaps it’s time for Andy Flower, the person who encouraged Broad to adopt such a bullying style, to take him to one side and cool him down a little. Maybe even educate him. Let him know what’s acceptable and what isn’t. After all, Broad is England’s Twenty20 captain now and has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders – not only leading an international outfit and a bowling attack but also setting an example to youngsters making their way in the game.

Broad is a very talented bowler who has all the potential to become a major influence on English cricket in the next decade. Every bowler, whether on the village green or dominating the IPL, has their moments when the heat of the moment gets the better of them. Allan Donald, Glenn McGrath, Jimmy Anderson; they’ve all been there. But Broad needs to learn the difference between affective sledging and excessive abuse.

George Curtis


  • I think there are two obvious problems with Broad;

    i) he’s a petulant child who seems to think he deserves wickets, regardless of what dross he serves up

    ii) he bowls in completely the wrong style 90% of the time.

    Partly this is his fault, partly the coaching team’s. He, and they, seem to think of him as England’s answer to Curtly Ambrose. I’ve heard the coaching staff talk about him having a great bouncer, and being England’s ‘enforcer’

    The trouble is that, in reality, the times he’s been really effective have been the times when he’s bowled more like Glenn McGrath – tall bowler pitching it up, aiming at the top of off, and letting the ball nip a bit. When he tries to bowl like Curtly – five balls out of six pitched in his half of the pitch – it just doesn’t work. It’s far too predictable for a top-class batsman. He’s got the pace but he doesn’t seem to have the discipline or the knack, maybe, to get it on the right spot to consistently trouble the batsman at that length. There’s such a fine line between a danger ball and a half-pitcher four-ball, and he’s so often on the wrong side of it.

    I was in the ground at Cardiff in 2009 for the Ashes. Broad opened up with the short stuff, and the batsmen either got under it and hit it for four, or just swayed out of the way. Flintoff took over and, whilst far from his prime and bowling much the same length, the contrast was instant – it was always *at* the batsman. They couldn’t get under it, couldn’t really get over it, and couldn’t get out of the way. Phil Hughes was soon on his way.

    Therein lies the real problem, I suspect – they miss Flintoff and don’t know how to replace his bowling. They’re trying to mould Broad in to his replacement when really they should be steering him towards the style of McGrath. I think there’s a real danger of them permanently wasting Broad’s significant talent chasing a pipe-dream. In the last Ashes, Broad’s injury was a blessing in disguise and allowed them to replace the golden child without dropping him. Probably won England the series.

  • I agree. If you look at Broad’s best performances for England they have come when he’s ‘kissed the surface’ and not banged it in, as you say. His 5-for at The Oval against Australia in 2009 is the perfect example of that. It was an inspired spell and I don’t remember there being too many short balls.

    It’s dangerous to draw comparisons with McGrath because he will never be that good, but you’re right about the style he should be bowling. The odd short ball is acceptable, obviously, but 90% of the time he should be pitching it up at good pace and letting the ball do the rest. He just needs to look at Jimmy Anderson and see how he gets the majority of his wickets.

    When you put in place a deep square-leg, fine-leg and deep mid-wicket you know the short ball is coming. England need to work on that. You might as well shout from the rooftops “we’re going to pepper your ribs!” if you’re going to employ those tactics. Broad is too often naive and stubborn. He has a lot of learning to do.

    • Yeah, I went to the Oval Test in ’09, and that was exactly what I was thinking of. He only does it occasionally, but he always looks ten times as dangerous.

      I said ‘in the style of McGrath’. Obviously he isn’t quite McGrath, but old Pigeon actually had a very simple style – pitch it up, aim at the top of off, let the bounce and a bit of nip do most of the work. It’s something most bowlers should aim at, and Broad would be a far better bowler if he did. McGrath, likewise, slipped the bouncer in once every four or five overs, and it had real surprise value. You can call Broad’s bouncer before he even sets off. I remember seeing Mohammed Yousif ducking his first ball from Broad before it had left his hand. Everyone in the ground knew a bouncer was coming.


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