Stuart Broad celebrates

Did he check with the umpire first?

© Getty Images

Hate to Love

Broady's back

Back to Brisbane - and back in our Hate to Love series

Brydon Coverdale

pleasure derived by others from Stuart Broad's misfortune.

Is there any humiliation greater for a bowler than being hit for six sixes in an over? It means, effectively, that you have bowled the worst over it is possible to deliver. In all of men's international cricket history, more than one million overs have been bowled, and only two have descended into this 36-run embarrassment. One was bowled by the Dutchman Daan van Bunge, an occasional legspinner from a part-time cricket nation.

The other was delivered by Stuart Broad.

In hindsight, when Yuvraj Singh deposited Broad over midwicket for the last of those sixes at the 2007 World T20, there was only one real problem. It was too early in Broad's career for the cricket world to truly enjoy it, to really revel in the schadenbroad. He was 21 years old and was yet to make his Test debut. If we had our suspicions, we didn't yet know for certain that Stuart Broad was a Shit Bloke.

Young Broad looked like Draco Malfoy, and he came from cricket's equivalent of a Slytherin family. His father, Chris, was remembered for smashing his own stumps after being bowled, and for refusing to walk when given out in Pakistan. "Gracelessness". "Petulance". "Mouthing off". All words and phrases that appear in Chris Broad's profile on ESPNcricinfo, as written by the respected former Wisden editor Matthew Engel.

An Australian fan explains what the initials stand for

An Australian fan explains what the initials stand for © Getty Images

In years to come Stuart would confirm that he and his father are peas from the same Mendelian pod. There was Stuart's tendency to celebrate his wickets prematurely rather than deigning to appeal to the umpire. There was that time he threw the ball straight back at Pakistan batsman Zulqarnain Haider. There was... well... hmm. There must have been other reasons to hate him, because it came so easily. All the wickets and runs and skill probably played some part in it.

And then in 2013, thousands of my countrymen found their dislike of Broad going over the edge. But I found my antipathy towards him going, over the edge.

It was the third day of the Ashes in England, and Broad played back to Australia's debutant spinner Ashton Agar. Broad edged his attempted late cut, the ball ricocheted off the gloves of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and was snapped up by Michael Clarke at first slip. The Australians celebrated. Broad stood his ground. The Australians pleaded. Umpire Aleem Dar looked bewildered, and ruled in favour of the batsman.

Broad was on 37 at the time; he went on to make 65 and England won by 14 runs. You do the maths. It was a turning point not only in the Test but also in the mood of the back-to-back Ashes campaigns, this being the first of ten Ashes Tests in six months. You could almost see Clarke's blood boiling when he realised that Broad had got away with it. If the words "Broad" and "cheat" weren't trending on Twitter, then Twitter needs better algorithms.

Where he got it from: Broad with his dad, who wasn't averse to a bit of stroppiness himself

Where he got it from: Broad with his dad, who wasn't averse to a bit of stroppiness himself © Getty Images

Within a matter of days, a Facebook page had been established with the title "Stuart broad is a shit bloke". At last count it had more than 65,000 likes. To put that in perspective, it's nearly four times the capacity of the Trent Bridge ground at which Broad performed the act. Bandwagon jumpers everywhere - or at least, in Australia - agreed that Broad had defecated on the Spirit of Cricket.

In a dazzling display of hypocrisy, Australia's new coach, Darren Lehmann, called Broad's behaviour "blatant cheating". "I don't advocate walking but when you hit it to first slip it's pretty hard," Lehmann said. In other words, it's okay to cheat, but make it a bit less obvious. One wonders what Lehmann thought of Clarke's failure to walk after edging Anil Kumble to slip at the SCG in 2008, when Clarke stood his ground defiantly until Steve "Slow Death" Bucknor's finger finally went up.

I detest hypocrisy, in cricket as in life. I have contempt for the batsman who is happy to steal ground while backing up but calls a mankading bowler unsporting. Or the sledger who whinges when it comes back at him. Or the non-walkers who complain when an opponent does the same to them. I had no problem with Broad's insistence on making the umpire earn his enormous salary. I had a big problem with Lehmann's double standards.

In fact, I even felt that Broad's act, far from being cowardly, actually took a lot of guts. He knew he had smashed the ball. He knew that millions of viewers around the world knew it too. He knew that by standing his ground, he was opening the door for questions to be asked about his character. And he did it anyway. He did it because the match was on a knife edge. He did it to strengthen his country's chances of winning the Test and the Ashes. And it worked.

Six of the best: Broad cops another from Yuvraj in Durban in 2007

Six of the best: Broad cops another from Yuvraj in Durban in 2007 © Getty Images

Three months later, Broad was asked if he regretted his decision. His response was unequivocal: "No. We'd have lost the game."


If Broad's audacity deserved admiration, he was never going to get it from the Australian public and media. So when the return series came later in 2013, Australia's tabloid newspapers played to their masses. The Herald Sun's pre-series profiles referred to Broad as a "rotten cheat" and Brisbane's Courier-Mail refused to publish his name throughout the first Test, instead referring to him as the "27-year-old English medium-pace bowler".

Broad responded by taking five wickets on the opening day of the first Test in Brisbane, and after stumps walked into the press conference wearing a grin and carrying a copy of the Courier-Mail under his arm. That's chutzpah. And if the guy was Australian, Australians would love him for it.

It wasn't the first time Broad would deliver a sizzling Ashes spell, and nor would it be the last. In fact, his ability to stand up at key moments is perhaps second to none in recent Ashes campaigns. In 2009, he took 5 for 37 in the deciding Test at The Oval, which England won. In 2013, his second-innings 6 for 50 in Chester-le-Street sealed the series. In 2015, his stunning first-session blitz of 8 for 15 at Trent Bridge likewise secured England the series.

Five wickets on day one shut the banner wavers up quickly

Five wickets on day one shut the banner wavers up quickly © Getty Images

On the upcoming tour of Australia, Broad will almost certainly become the fifth man in history to reach 400 wickets and 3000 runs in Tests, after Richard Hadlee, Kapil Dev, Shane Warne and Shaun Pollock. And at some point in the series an Australian commentator, probably Mark Taylor and probably more than once, will still forget his name and call him "Chris Broad".

This summer, I will watch and admire a bowler of great spells, and a fine allrounder whose talent might not be fully appreciated until after his retirement. If he demolishes Australia, I will objectively appreciate the carnage. If he handles the hecklers with trademark cheek, I will applaud him. And yet, when he celebrates his wickets without appealing, he will lose my respect. When he whinges, I will have no pity.

My attitude towards him remains, fittingly, a broad church. There is room for admiration, perhaps even fondness. But there is also room for derision. And yes, there is still plenty of scope for schadenbroad.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo @brydoncoverdale