x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

There is no need to jabber when you dominate on cricket pitch

It could be argued that an athlete can be as “sooky” as he likes toward the great unwashed, providing that he can do his job on the field, writes Will Batchelor.

As Stuart Broad demonstrated with his seventh ball of the day, which dismissed Chris Rogers, one of five he took, there is more than one way to silence a mob. Scott Barbour / Getty Images
As Stuart Broad demonstrated with his seventh ball of the day, which dismissed Chris Rogers, one of five he took, there is more than one way to silence a mob. Scott Barbour / Getty Images

Stuart Broad’s excellent start to the first Ashes Test against Australia on Thursday was pleasing, to me, at least, for two reasons.

Firstly, I am English, so of course I like to see an England bowler taking two Aussie wickets before lunch.

Secondly, it was the perfect riposte to David Warner’s pre-Ashes claim that Broad was a “sook” – Australian slang for a spoilt baby – who should learn how to engage a hostile crowd, to effectively join in the banter.

In one sense, Warner was correct. There are some wonderful examples of athletes taming a hostile crowd by visibly joining in on the joke.

The former Newcastle United and Coventry City striker Micky Quinn, for example, famously picked up and ate a meat pie which had been hurled at him from the stands.

After such self-deprecation, the long-standing barb that he was overweight lost its sting.

On the other hand – and perhaps this is an age thing – I am tired of sport accommodating ever increasing volume of “banter”, much of which comes from fans who do not know their place, grown men who cannot accept that they are not centre stage.

For a player to acknowledge their catcalls, as Warner recommends, is to validate their childish cries for attention.

Yes, it may shut them up for a while, but it ratchets up their expectation, meaning the next player who refuses to join in will be vilified as aloof or snobby.

As it happens, Broad is not a sook. Warner’s accusation was based on duff information.

However, it could be argued that an athlete can be as “sooky” as he likes toward the great unwashed, providing that he can do his job on the field.

As Broad demonstrated with his seventh ball of the day, which dismissed Chris Rogers, one of five he took, there is more than one way to silence a mob.

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