Stuart Broad cleared of breaching cricket's spirit – by his father

• Elite ICC referee plays down son's refusal to walk
• 'I texted him to ask how he kept such a straight face'

Stuart Broad has been cleared of breaching the spirit of cricket when he refused to walk on Friday by one of the International Cricket Council's seven-man panel of elite match referees – his father.

Chris Broad has always had to plead guilty to being a poacher turned gamekeeper in his official role with the ICC after a couple of high-profile disciplinary indiscretions in his own playing career – he was fined for smashing down his stumps during the Bicentennial Test in Sydney in 1988, and the previous year, topically enough, he was reprimanded for standing his ground in Lahore.

His son's insouciance after edging Ashton Agar to Michael Clarke at slip on Friday seemed especially awkward after Broad Sr had imposed a two-match suspension on the West Indies wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin only last month for breaching the indefinable spirit of cricket by claiming a catch that had not carried in a Champions Trophy game against Pakistan. "This is regarded as a serious offence as it is the responsibility of all players to act in the spirit of the game," he said at the time – prompting the great former West Indies bowler Michael Holding to demand, in his current role as a Sky pundit, that Broad Jr should now face a similar punishment.

But there seems little danger of that, given the subtle but significant difference between the two incidents – Ramdin claimed a catch, whereas Broad was the grateful recipient of an incorrect decision. Perhaps that was why Chris Broad was still happy to joke about Stuart's behaviour with BBC radio on Saturday afternoon.

"I texted him to ask how he kept such a straight face," he said. "Would we be having this discussion if we were in Australia? It doesn't matter who did it, the fact that it has happened here in England in an Ashes series, we're all English and stiff upper lip – are we having it debated because we're English? It's a contest between bat and ball and he enjoys the contest, especially in a series like this."

The reaction of the vocal majority of the crowd at Trent Bridge, Broad's home county ground with Nottinghamshire, suggested that the incident had enhanced his popularity. He was given a standing ovation when he returned to the pavilion after extending his overnight 47 to 65, his 10th Test half-century and his highest score against Australia – notwithstanding the fact that he should have gone for 37.

"That tells you what the rest of the country thinks," said Sir Ian Botham in the Sky commentary box.

It is far from the first time that Broad Jr has found himself at the centre of a storm. He was fined in 2010 for throwing the ball at Pakistan's debutant wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider at Edgbaston, and the following year for showing dissent to an umpire, Billy Bowden, in a one-day international against Sri Lanka.

Yet in conversation the 27-year-old comes across as a likeable, intelligent and thoughtful cricket nut. He spoke engagingly about his Ashes excitement at a function for the sponsors Investec in London last week, and gained permission from Nottinghamshire to use the Trent Bridge Test to promote the Broad Appeal, the charity set up by the family – including Gemma, one of England's team analysts – to raise awareness of and funds for the treatment of motor neurone disease after the death of Miche, Stuart and Gemma's mother.

As Frank Hayes, the former Lancashire and England batsman who coached Broad at Oakham School, has recalled: "He's a lovely lad, not a nasty piece of work in the slightest."

At that Ashes function, Broad reflected on his contrasting experiences in the last couple of series: a rib injury suffered in the second Test in Adelaide in late 2010 that left him a frustrated spectator when England made history in Melbourne and Sydney; and some dark days, too, in the summer of 2009 before everything came right with his decisive spell in the fifth Test at The Oval.

"I had a tough time with a couple of dry Tests, and the media side of things can get to you," he said. "My old man grabbed me and took me away to play golf for three days between Tests – we went up to Scotland so no one knew anything about the cricket up there, and just chatted. I relaxed, remembered what I do and came back and bowled nicely."

There is no time, nor need, for another northern jaunt before next week's second Test at Lord's, presuming the shoulder he damaged before and during this game is up to another long workout. But Broad's dad has come to his aid in a very different way during this latest Ashes trial.

Contributor

Andy Wilson at Trent Bridge

The GuardianTramp

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