SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia howled in outrage on Saturday at England batsman Stuart Broad's refusal to walk in the first Ashes Test.
But while some newspapers said cricket's ethics demanded he should have done so, others warned that making too much of the controversy could invite accusations of double standards.
Australia were left fuming as Broad enjoyed a massive slice of luck on the third day as England tightened their grip on the opening Test at Trent Bridge on Friday.
Broad had made 37, with England then 297 for seven in their second innings, when he edged teenage debutant spinner Ashton Agar to Australia captain Michael Clarke at first slip.
Australia appealed for the catch but Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar ruled in the batsman's favour as Broad stood his ground.
The umpire's decision and Broad refusal to walk had many of Australia's former players and press in uproar.
Former Test wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, who earned a reputation during his playing career for not waiting for the umpire's verdict and walking back to the pavilion, was angered by Broad's decision.
"Some people saying, you rely on the umpire. No you don't, you rely on honesty," Gilchrist tweeted, adding: "Disappointed by the Poms today, if you're out -- you walk."
The Melbourne Age's Greg Baum said the incident had tarnished the Test.
"If there was a noble voice inside Stuart Broad, it must have been screaming at him to turn around and make for the pavilion," Baum said.
"Or was it that it was shouted down by a baser, but louder and now more common instinct, which recognises no nicety except the distinction between winning and losing? Maybe there was no debate in Broad's mind; maybe nothing happened there."
"But Broad did not walk ... the Australians were flabbergasted, and the Test match came to a screaming halt. And when it started again, the edge had come off the charm of the opening two days of this series, and it will take much diplomacy and graciousness to restore it."
Fairfax Media's Chloe Saltau called it an "appalling umpiring decision", with the crucial reprieve of Broad handing a decisive advantage to England.
Wayne Smith, writing in The Australian, said the incident stirred memories of England's 1987 tour of Pakistan when Broad's father and now ICC match referee, Chris, refused to leave even after being given out by local umpire Shakeed Khan in the First Test in Lahore.
"Eventually his batting partner Graham Gooch had to wander down the pitch and gently advise him to leave," Smith said.
"Still, the last thing Australia needs now is a walking controversy. It is almost an established law of Australian cricket that no-one walks, and while the cricketing public is free to make its own judgement of Broad and whether he played in the spirit of the game, this is not a debate the Australian players should, or indeed did join -- not without inviting accusations of double standards."
The Australian's cricket analyst Gideon Haigh added an historical context to the latest Ashes drama.
"Something about Australians and walking invariably generates more heat than light. Let it be admitted: not even saintly Victor Trumper walked," Haigh wrote.
The Daily Telegraph's Malcolm Conn said Australia became the latest victim of a bizarre umpiring controversy, but noted that England's lead of 261 runs with four wickets left may be a target "already too much for a fragile Australian batting line-up on a slow, low turning pitch which has made run-scoring difficult".