Monday, June 09, 2008

Guest Blog: Baby-Faced Broad is the perfect role model

Stuart Broad, not content with sending mothers everywhere into raptures, is to turn his attention to their cricket-playing sons. This ‘nice-looking young man’, as my gooey-eyed mater insists on calling him, is the ECB’s top choice to front a campaign against abuse in recreational and youth cricket.

Broad is ‘just the sort of role model we need’, according to an ECB official, echoing my mother’s view that Broad is indeed ‘a man you’d be happy for your daughter to bring home’.

While Broad clearly holds some sort of hypnotic power over womankind, whether he can exert his influence over the present generation of unruly young cricketers remains to be seen. Abuse is now widespread in the modern game, both at professional, amateur and youth level. While instances of abuse or dissent amongst international cricketers are justifiably clamped down upon, in village or youth cricket umpires have little power to punish offenders.

For example, last season my local side was forced to lodge an official complaint against another village team, after the sledging in a rather high-spirited game began to feel more like racial abuse. After a lengthy, bureaucratic and time-consuming process the offenders were eventually punished, but during the game itself the umpires had been powerless to halt the abuse. Admittedly this is anecdotal evidence, but the word on the street is that this sort of thing, despite ‘not really being cricket’, is becoming increasingly common, particularly among younger teams. Clearly umpires need more power to stop such behaviour in its tracks.

The ECB’s solution, The Guardian reports, is that ‘this summer a system of yellow cards is being secretly trialled at three private schools’. (Quite how this trial can be said to be secret, now that its existence has been publicised in a national newspaper, is a question that the article does not get round to addressing.)

Personally, I find the whole yellow card idea quite ridiculous. Just imagine the scenes that could be taking place on a public school playing field near you this summer:

‘Oh I say, how’s that, umpire?’
‘Not out.’
‘But I jolly well heard a nick.’
‘You may well have done, young Faux-Bowyer. But what matters in this case is that I did not. The decision remains not out, and nothing you can do or say shall induce me to raise my finger.’
‘You absolute rotter!’
‘That, young man, is dissent. You have just earned yourself a yellow card, not to mention a week of detentions.’

All this seems a far cry from the cosy fictional world of everyone’s favourite public schoolboy cricketer, J C T Jennings. (If you’ve never heard of him, then I apologise. You must have suffered a terribly deprived childhood.) I seem to recall Jennings and Darbishire receiving nothing more than a mild ticking off after cutting Latin in order to watch a local game. These days their actions would no doubt earn them both a red card and a three-match suspension.

Now, I know the Jennings stories weren’t actually real, but nevertheless I still believe that there was indeed a time, probably nestled somewhere between the two world wars, when boys knew how to behave, and such things as yellow cards were considered unseemly. Whatever happened to The Spirit of Cricket? I just pray that Stuart Broad can resuscitate it before it is too late.

If standards of behaviour have indeed so degenerated that a system of yellow cards is deemed necessary, then cricket will truly have sunk to a new low. Why, we’ll be little better than footballers! I’m pinning my hopes on baby-faced Broad. That nice young man may well turn out to be a Jennings for our time.


Spigot said...

Little better is still better. And as long as both parties know that, and they keep dothing their filthy cloth caps when we saunter past, that'll be fine. They know their place.

Genuine coloured squares of card would be wholly ludicrous. We'll be reduced to orange quarters soon instead of the conventional caviar and crostini. Never really understood the appeal of that horse duvet stuff myself.

Catherine said...

I love Stuart Broad. He is indeed a nice young man.

Also I go to a private school but I have never used the word 'rotter' and often use the phrase 'innit' thus going against the stereotype you portrayed in your post. I do however realise I just used the word 'thus' and that this has weakened my case somewhat.

Spigot said...

Catherine, you mean you occasionally have jolly fun mimicking the proletariat?

Catherine said...

No I am the proletariat (yes I had to look that word up), but I am also privately educated.

Anonymous said...

Billy Bowden red-carded McGrath for bowling underarm in a Aus-NZ T20I. That was of course when the game was still hit-and-giggle and not hit-and-ka-ching!

Jrod said...

Why would anyone want to ban abuse in cricket?

Thats like taking the sex out of porn.

D Charlton said...

Okay Mr Ath, you've got me upset now. It is such a misconception that behaviour has got bad on the field. Firstly, it always has been bad, second, it's now no worse than it ever was and third really bad behaviour (a touch of the old ultra violence or racial abuse) is pretty rare - very few captains around the country want that sort of thing going on.

And as Jrod points out, what's wrong with a little abuse, especially if it is NOT personal but just telling someone they haven't hit a boundary in 16 overs...

We have a public school player at my club and this is what he is known as:,_Gentleman_Thug

The Atheist said...

Don't blame me! I didn't write it! T'was a guest blog.

It was a friend. If you want to send him hate mail, I can happily provide all the nutters in the world with his address.

Personally, I don't think there's enough sledging. But, the problem is, there is a lack of high-quality sledging.

Look at the world's leader champions of being total bastards: The Australians. And what's the best they can come up with? "Oi! You! No World Cup, you can't bat."

Where's the blood-curdling swearing and screamed death threats these days?

d charlton said...

Sorry Senor The - just don't understand blogging well enough.

I argue that there never has been any great sledging... most of the good sledging stories are apocryphal, passed on through generations of boredom in the slips and rainbreaks, growing legs as they are retold.

Back in 1896, I remember reading a piece in the Manchester Guardian about a bowler saying to Dr WG, who'd just played and missed: "why are you so fat?" The great doctor allegedly replied: "because everytime I etc etc etc biscuit." And next thing i know is Eddo Brandes has nicked it 100 years later.

d charlton said...

sorry - that should have read "whom had just".
Clearly, it wasn't the bowler playing and missing

Spigot said...

DC, in your defense, I would take it as customary to actually say who is guest blogging in these circumstances :)

The Atheist said...

Glad to see the author of the post isn't getting involved.

Spigglers, I can't say who wrote it, otherwise the press would make his or her life hell.

Tony said...

He's not a baby face, he's a girly face.

Tom said...

Glad to see my guest appearance has led to some comments. Apologies for my delayed response. I've been lying low: after stereotyping private schoolboys I was cruelly struck down by the flu. Seems a bit of a harsh punishment really - a yellow card would have done the trick.

I completely agree that sledging is an accepted and established part of cricket. However, I do think that the very fact that the ECB feels the need to use our beloved Broad as an icon of sportsmanship points to declining standards of behaviour in the game at a local level. I would like to propose my own punishment: instead of a red card, how about the offender is forced to abstain from his or her cricket tea?

Ayalac: if you do find yourself without a job, does this mean you'll be able to make some more videos? Could be a career in stop-motion animation for you...

Spigot said...

why would he bother with animation when he's just so darn good at classical painting. reminds me of a young Canaletto.

The Atheist said...

Hullo Tom, glad you're taking some responsibility for some of the flak I have been receiving.

You should swear more. I hav always thought that's been your problem.