Mrs Broad did a great job bringing up Stuart. The cricketing nation owes her a debt of gratitude. He is one of life’s great optimists. Every ball will take a wicket, every spell will be one that changes the course of a Test match. Every appeal for LBW is out (except every appeal when he is batting). Every ball he receives as a batsman will be stroked to the boundary. Every innings will produce a century.
There is more than a little of the Don Quixote about Stuart, though with a lot better eyesight.
Some have even compared his batting to that of Gary Sobers, though TM has struggled in vain to see any resemblance. Confidence is infectious. But it can carry the day.
Last winter, Stuart’s hubristic nature encountered its Nemisis (to mix metaphorical allusions). Mitchell Johnson inevitably exposed Stuart to harsh reality. He (and what was worse the world) suddenly saw Stuart’s vulnerability to the short stuff. This series against India has repeatedly illustrated his awkwardness when trying to cope with the rising ball aimed at his throat. TM has squirmed when watching his paralysis; unable even to duck, it seemed.
Now this is a crisis for someone like Stuart; as indeed it was in a different way for Jonathan Trott. Trott reached deep into his mind and came up with a tactic of moving to the off side of the ball and endeavouring to ‘pick’ up the ball and send it over the boundary. It looked desperate. It was desperate.
Stuart, perhaps delving less deeply into his psyche, or having a less deep psychic pool than Jonathan Trott, obviously came back to the surface with a more orthodox though no less desperate idea: that he needed to hook the short stuff and give a lie to this inconvenient alternative universe that was so persistently intruding upon his world view.
One can imagine how Stuart saw the ball sailing ten rows back into the stand.
“I will do it.”
He did it. The shape of the shot was perfect. The timing just a fraction off as any less confident cricketer might have predicted before rejecting the idea.
And a less confident cricketer embarking on such a risky venture might have double checked the gap between visor and helmet. But not Stuart.
The question arises as to whether Stuart would have risked all this in the days before helmets. There is reason to suggest others would not. But there again … in Stuart’s world probably he would.