Is Stuart Broad the most annoying cricketer there’s ever been?

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There are two types of people in this world. There are annoying people and then there are people who pride themselves on being annoying.

That’s it. Those are all the options. Everyone is annoying.

Probably the most annoying person ever is Ben Kingsley’s insanely aggressive character in Sexy Beast, Don Logan. (Here’s a highly sweary video that gives you just a taste of what he’s like.)

Logan is a man who very literally will not take no for an answer.

“Yes or no?” he asks at one point.

“No,” comes the reply.

“Yes,” says Don.

That’s basically the whole film: Ben Kingsley endlessly hassling Ray Winstone.

Sexy Beast is striking and memorable and funny, but it’s probably not a film you’ll want to watch again any time soon, specifically because of how transcendentally infuriating Don Logan is.

Logan can’t help but be annoying. He takes no pleasure in it. It’s just the way he’s wired.

Stuart Broad, on the other hand…

Stuart Broad is super annoying

Broad strikes us as a man who doesn’t merely pride himself on being annoying, but perhaps even actively works on it, honing his art to attain higher peaks and greater consistency.

Put it this way: if we suggested that Broad actually delights in annoying people, how many of you would disagree with that statement?

There was that famous time in the 2013 Ashes when he didn’t walk after nicking the ball behind (to first slip, via the keeper). That was effortlessly annoying, but consider what it gave rise to.

Come the next Ashes series, Australia’s Courier-Mail refused to name him, and instead spent the first Test referring to him as a ’27-year-old medium-pace bowler’. After taking five wickets on day one, Broad swanned into the press conference with a copy of the Courier-Mail under his arm.

Now that’s artistry.

Exhibit B would be when he volunteered to do a press conference after the sandpaper story broke so that he could innocently make a point about how much Australia had got the ball to reverse in the Ashes.

“I saw Steve Smith in his press conference say it’s the first time they’ve tried it, which to me seems really surprising they’ve changed a method that’s been working.”

Broad loves all this stuff.

But really these off-field examples are just proof of his gleeful malevolence; signs that a certain proportion of his far more significant annoying on-field work must surely be cold and deliberate.

An annoying opponent

A lot of cricketers are annoying because they play for your team and they do things wrong. Broad has been this kind of player plenty of times – perhaps most memorably when he managed to miss three run-outs and drop a catch in the final over of a World T20 defeat against the Netherlands – but it’s as an opposition player that he truly excels. That’s when you really want to lamp him in the mush.

Ask any cricket fan from outside England to name the most annoying cricketer in the world and there’s a good chance Broad’s name will come up. It’s a compliment really. You’re rarely bothered by opponents when they’re rubbish.

Except with Broad it’s not that he’s annoying because he’s good, it’s that he actually seems to have made ‘being annoying’ a crucial element of why he’s good.

Shane Warne was a bowler cut from similar cloth. The first LBW appeal was close, the second was closer and the third one… “Come on, umpire. Come on. If that last one was nearly out then this one has to be out. Has to be, has to be, has to be. Howzat!”

Where Warne tried to convince umpires with his certainty, Broad hoodwinks them with his complete and utter conviction. If he didn’t invent the celebrappeal – the appeal that is actually just a celebration – then he is certainly its best known practitioner.

This one against the West Indies was incredible.

Broad’s ‘appeal’ involved running down the pitch and punching the air without looking back.

To be clear, this was for an LBW. We’ve seen clean bowled celebrated with less certainty. What do you do if you’re the umpire in that situation? You might as well give it. The batsman can always review.

People hate Broad for this. And the genius of Broad is that he loves that people hate him for it, seemingly gaining more from the transaction than his haters lose. He draws energy from their antipathy, like how Superman draws energy from Earth’s yellow sun.

A fantastic bowler, a fantastic celebrappealer, a fantastic untier and retier of shoelaces when his team is trying to bat time for a draw and also the greatest batsman of all.

Stuart Broad.


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32 comments

  1. While he’s managed to turn it into an art form, I can’t help but think that there must be some Australians who beat him as members of the Don Logan category. The late nineties-early 2000s team probably has several members who were annoying just because of how good they were while not being Kiwi levels of nice, but Brad Haddin is top of my mind. In the 2013-14 Ashes Mitchell Johnson steamrolling England wasn’t fun, but it was Brad Haddin scrapping Australia up to respectability every time (while simultaneously being Brad Haddin) that was the infuriating bit.

  2. This whole thing finally ended up as an ode to Broad (sort of) – something I was not expecting. I am not at all sure there’s a “genius” in Broad’s methodology. He’s an annoying piece of shit the same way Andre Nel is an annoying piece of shit.

    The difference between him and Warne is quite simple: Warne made you watch. Regardless of what he did. There’s always the next thing Warne *could* do that made you forget (at least momentarily) that he’s an annoying piece of shit. When he gets to the top of his mark, you watch. *That* is genius, or at least something very close to it. Broad’s just a pain in the behind – there’s simply no point philosophizing or complicating this.

  3. I get deeply annoyed by Nathan Lyon. But whilst, as per the thesis of KC’s article, Broad’s is a self cultivated irritation (I’d missed the sandpaper quote, which was sublime), Lyons’s obnoxiousness is largely caused by other people’s reactions to him. Around the time of the the ball tampering thing, when discussing what a group of pricks the Australian team were, some Australian pundit (I can’t recall who) said that Lyon was the nicest of men, it was simply what he said and what he did which made him appear otherwise. It seems to me that ones place on the nice-to-prick spectrum is entirely determined by ones words and actions, so dismissing what he says and does seems somewhat asinine. The pundit really turned me against Lyon. And then there is the fact that many Australians seem to think Lyon is a very good bowler, and much better than Swann, because he has quite a lot of wickets now. He’s not. They have turned me further against him.
    I am probably being very unfair to Lyon, but fortunately I feel no obligation to be fair in matters of cricket opinion.

  4. As a cricket fan outside England, I don’t find Broad particularly annoying. I actually find him refreshingly entertaining amongst a player culture which largely tends to spout meaningless platitudes. His comments after the Smith ball tampering saga were particularly brilliant.

    I used to dislike him for his role in the whole bullying-Pietersen saga, but that’s been largely tempered by discovering just how annoying Pietersen is since he started commentating, and the aforementioned ball tampering comments.

    He does kind of have an annoying face though.

      1. Good heavens, there’s a suggestion in the comments on that August 2015 thread that Bert might actually have been at Trent Bridge on that 60 all out, Broad 8-15 occasion. I hadn’t picked up on that veiled hint before.

        The realisation that next week sees the 5th anniversary of that glorious day is a bit of a blow, especially to those of us who still think of it as an event that happened “a couple of years ago”.

        Links to the several KC pieces about that day, including Bert’s epic match report which, in true KC style, did not mention the cricket, can be found in my report on the day, which also explains why I was not at Lord’s watching county cricket that day:

        http://ianlouisharris.com/2015/08/06/the-day-i-didnt-go-to-cricket-with-paul-deacon-i-watched-tv-for-several-hours-instead-6-august-2015/

        Oh happy day.

        Stuart Broad.

      2. I think it’s time to come clean about this. I know I said I was there, but that was just to impress everyone here. I guess I thought that if I said I was there, people here would like me more. I mean, it would have been an amazing thing, being there, on that morning, seeing it all play out in front of you, Broad on fire, the Aussies rolling, the beer flowing, the sun shining. It would have been the most amazing thing ever, and would put anyone who actually was there on a pedestal of cricket watching that nobody else could even approach. It would make them, literally, the greatest person in the history of the world.

  5. I did say Stuart effing Broad yesterday, but honestly, Broad is only annoying when he does something annoying (like not walking after edging to first slip). There are plenty of Aussie cricketers who just are annoying. All the time.

    1. To be clear and precise, Stuart Effing Broad did NOT fail to walk after edging to first slip.

      He failed to walk after edging to Brad Effing Haddin, the keeper who missed the catch but rebounded it to first slip where it was caught by Michael Effing Clarke.

      https://youtu.be/aHhZb-cBKwc

      Why the Aussie anger was directed at Stuart Effing Broad rather than the umpire, Aleem Effing Dar is one of life’s little cricketing mysteries.

      1. This sort of thing really goes to show how much people believe a story if it gets repeated often enough, even in the face of obvious evidence.

        It’s like how there are people around who think Broad was a high-flying allrounder until he got hit in the face one time, as though his batting hadn’t been on a steady decline all decade and you can easily see that from the figures.

      2. KC says, “Not that big a mystery. See the title of this article.”…

        Ged says, “that’s why I described it as “one of life’s LITTLE cricketing mysteries”.

        BTW, when researching my above comment (yes folks, the level of professionalism that goes into some of my comments just has to be seen to be believed)…

        …I came across this indisputable evidence that Broad annoyed someone, although the author of this lyric seems to think that a whole team/nation/game had been brought into disrepute:

        https://youtu.be/IBJL1H84Y2A

        Gilchrist is shown in that video as the antithesis of Broad. I’m not convinced Gilchrist was a paragon of virtue, though. He juggled with the concept of walking during his career. Broad is more self-assured.

      3. Wasn’t that the same test that the final wicket fell, securing England’s win, when Brad Effing Haddin failed to walk for an edge to the keeper but was given out on the DRS review that England had in hand because they didn’t have a Shane Effing Watson to burn them?

      4. Indeed Nursery Ender, your memory serves you well.

        It is well worth watching this little ECB vid of the denouement of that match, if for no other reason than to see the expression on Darren Effing Lehmann’s defeated face.

        https://youtu.be/6I3mS5FbN7c

        The Lehmann moment is at 1:24/1:25 and is well worth a freeze frame. Possibly even a picture worthy of an entire KC piece…not that KC does requests of course.

      5. Much as a picture often results in a thousand words on this site, we’ll leave that one to speak for itself.

  6. Peak Stuart Broad annoying-ness was when he hit 150-odd against us in the 2011 series when we were on top. Of course we went on to lose the test and the series. What started as grudging respect then has turned into full-fledged annoylation on my part. Champion cricketer!

    1. Ah, turns out I was mis-remembering his 169 against Pakistan the previous year. Seems he made 64 and then took a 6-for including a hat-trick in the 2011 Test that I was referring to. Prick. Legend.

      1. His contribution during that first (Lord’s) test was pretty handy too – wickets…runs…but sadly Daisy and I were there in person before Broad’s antics that match…

        http://ianlouisharris.com/2011/07/22/england-v-india-at-lords-days-one-and-two-21-22-july-2011/

        …a captive audience for a pair of retired journalists who must tell the same stories to their neighbours every time…

        …we merely got to witness a KP double-hundred.

        I should have asked for my money back. “If I’m going to watch an annoying bastard take a match away from the opposition, I want my own choice of annoying bastard.”

      2. …and if I’m going to be bored half to death by retired news agency journos sitting next to me at Lord’s, I want Associated Press bores, not Reuters bores…

      3. Further, I realise that was the year that Charley the Gent got more runs than England in the Edgbaston test, which was really saying something given that England scored over 700 in their first (only) innings.

        KC match report and cricinfo scorecard all linked here:

        http://ianlouisharris.com/2011/08/11/two-wheels-on-my-roller-but-i-keep-rolling-along-england-v-india-days-one-and-two-edgbaston-10-11-august-2011/

        Again Broad was in the wickets but did not bat.

        Great memories, these, Ameya, thanks.

  7. Do the England One-Day team now genuinely not know how to score slowly? Currently going at more than a run a ball but have lost 3 wickets in their 11 overs.

    Get Dom Sibley in there to shore things up.

      1. This England team is not exactly short of batting down the order though, is it?

        A fairly convincing win.

        Some promising looking youngsters in the Ireland set up but they have a lot to learn still.

      2. Winning by 4 wickets, chasing 213, when one of your openers has scored a 40-ball 80 isn’t a convincing win.

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