There’s been an interesting debate on Twitter this afternoon about an incident in the Ashes cricket match, between England and Australia. Listening on the radio, it’s impossible to have an opinion on the event itself, as it’s all to do with a batsman not walking off the field when he was caught behind, even though the umpire said Not Out.
There is a video review system in cricket – DRS – which was introduced for just such moments and, had the Aussies not wasted their reviews on dubious LBW (leg before wicket – a way of getting out) decisions, they could have asked for a review and Broad would have been out.
The commentators are even saying Broad might have walked anyway if the Aussies had had a review remaining, knowing it would be reviewed. As I say, I don’t really have an opinion, although – as an English person – I would hope that he would do the sporting thing. The phrase Simply not cricket is a reference to the scrupulous morals of the game.
However, as many people on Twitter pointed out, this is his career. His job is to help his team mates win the game and the tournament. His runs may turn out to be the difference between victory and defeat. With the DRS system there to prevent such travesty decisions, maybe his staying put is a lesson to Australia not to waste them. (After the match, Broad said it was a batsman’s right to await the decision of the umpire.)
One of the more interesting discussions centred around whether an Australian player would have walked in the same situation (along the lines of – they would have stayed put so why shouldn’t our guy?). There, I’m less comfortable. Just because your opponent does something, doesn’t mean you should too.
In the end, the decisions in sport ebb and flow. By all accounts there were a couple of decisions yesterday that went the way of the Aussies rather than the English. These things tend to even out in the end. Of course if it had been the other way around I might have been more outraged, though I don’t think so.
The shift from amateur to professional status for a sport or sportsman must make it harder to take the moral high ground. You do see it, when a snooker player admits to moving a ball with his hand, or when a cricketer walks, but not so much. I ask the haters on Twitter, though, what would you do?
I dislike endless promotion from authors on social media; it doesn’t mean I haven’t done it, when there’s a free promo running or I haven’t had a sale in weeks. It’s my job and I have to grow an extra layer of skin and do things that go against the grain.
I used to struggle at work with office politics, because I have a writer’s need for honesty and explanation as opposed to poker-face lying and dissimulation. However, I knew I couldn’t change the way the game was played so I chose to leave rather than let the game change me. I was lucky to have the choice.
Hubbie is facing the same dilemma, knowing his family rely on him not to leave. I wish I knew the answer, for those faced with a game whose rules offend their sense of what’s right, but who must play by those rules or lose.
In Broad’s position? If I genuinely knew I hit the ball and was out (and hot spot doesn’t seem certain, so maybe Broad wasn’t) I would probably walk. But maybe only because my guilt would be writ large on my face. I couldn’t lie about my daughter’s age to get her into an aquarium without paying adult prices for a 4-year-old, but I didn’t correct the lady on the till when she made the assumption for me that my daughter was only 3.
Besides, isn’t it hard to be moral in a society whose leaders have the motto ‘What can we get away with?’ rather than ‘Let’s do what’s right’.
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
Claire walked up the path and felt a twinge of anxiety. The last time she had turned up unannounced she hadn’t received much of a welcome. Hopefully her week being helpful over at Ruth’s would ensure a cordial greeting.
The house lurked quietly on the subdued street. I guess six o’clock on a Sunday evening isn’t a noisy time in this kind of neighbourhood. Presumably the residents were all eating a Sunday roast or watching prime-time television in their sitting rooms.
The sound of the bell shattered the silence. Claire waited, listening for the familiar footsteps along the hall. Five seconds passed, ten. The wait made her ears ring and tightened a knot of tension in her stomach.
I’ll count to ten, then I’ll ring the bell again.
Images began to flash through Claire’s mind and she had to resist the impulse to let herself in, unsure whether she expected to find them murdered in their beds, or a note to confirm her father was having an affair, next to a bottle of pills and an empty liquor bottle.
Come on, Claire, you’ve been watching too many Sunday-night dramas yourself. This isn’t Midsomer or an episode of CSI.
Her hands trembled as she raised them to the bell a second time. As the sound cut through the still evening, Claire knew that no one was going to answer. With a rapidly increasing heart rate, she decided to call her mother’s mobile.
Maybe they’re at the pub, or a party. The words sounded false in her mind: her parents never went out. Not together, at any rate.
A sudden vision of her mother stalking her father, spying on him to discover his misdeeds, rose in her mind, only to be banished.
Claire found her phone and dialled the number. It also rang on, unanswered. Claire ended the call and was about to find her house key when her mobile flashed back into life. It was her mother’s number, returning her call. With numb hands she lifted the phone to her ear.
“Hello? Mum? Are you okay?”
“Claire, darling. Sorry I didn’t catch your call, I couldn’t reach the phone.” Her mother’s voice bubbled down the line, easing some of the worry but none of the puzzlement.
“Where are you?” The clear fact that her mother hadn’t been murdered or taken her own life, caused anger to rise, sharpening Claire’s voice.
“Away, darling. At a spa. I left you a message. Didn’t I? Well, I meant to. Your father has whisked me away for the weekend.” She giggled, and Claire heard voices murmuring on the other end of the line. Her mother giggled again, this time in a tone of voice that made Claire’s cheeks flush red hot.
“Mum! What are you doing? No, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.”
“Sorry. Your father’s trying to tempt me back to bed.”
“Eugh! I said I didn’t want to know! I take it you sorted out your differences then?”
“Yes. You were right, he wasn’t cheating on me. Fancy your Dad writing a book, at his time of life. I read it. It’s very good. Quite racy in places.” She gave a girlish titter that made Claire feel nauseous.
“I stopped by to see how you are. I’m standing on your doorstep.” Claire knew she was being churlish, but couldn’t help it. “I’m going to Oxford tonight.”
“Oh, are you, darling? How lovely. Did you have fun with Ruth? Thank you for helping out. I’m sure she’ll be fine until we get back tomorrow.”
Claire bit back the retort hovering on her lips. She knew her mother deserved a break, and was glad that she and her dad had sorted out their misunderstanding. Definitely time to look into hiring a child-minder for Ruth. Something tells me she might need one.
Unsure what else to say, and unwilling to continue the conversation, Claire wished her mother a happy holiday and hung up the phone.
Standing alone in front of the hushed house, she found herself drawn towards the door, keys in hand, an urge to let herself in and curl up in her old bed pulling at her like gravity. With a shake of the head, she turned away and strode back down the path to the car.