Australia batsman Shane Watson has backed Darren Lehmann after the team coach accused England’s Stuart Broad of “blatant cheating".
Broad has annoyed Australia’s players and supporters with his behaviour during the ongoing Ashes, which England lead by an unbeatable 3-0 with only the final Test at The Oval, which started Wednesday, left.
The 27-year-old Broad angered his Australian opponents in particular during England’s narrow 14-run first Test win at Trent Bridge, his Nottinghamshire home ground, when he refused to walk after a thick edge deflected off the wicketkeeper’s gloves to slip.
Former Australia batsman Lehmann was unimpressed, telling Australian radio station Triple M in an interview broadcast on Wednesday: “Certainly our players haven’t forgotten, they’re calling him everything under the sun as they go past.
“I hope the Australian public are the same because that was just blatant cheating. I don’t advocate walking but when you hit it to first slip it’s pretty hard,” he said.
“From my point of view I just hope the Australian public give it to him right from the word go for the whole summer and I hope he cries and he goes home,” Lehmann added.
“I just hope everyone gets stuck into him because the way he’s carried on and the way he’s commented in public about it is ridiculous.”
Broad’s superb bowling sparked an Australia collapse in the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street that saw England to a 74-run win, but that didn’t appear to concern Lehmann, who said his conduct in the series opener had heaped further pressure on the umpires, much criticised for several contentious decisions this Ashes.
“He hit it to first slip ... and the biggest problem there is the poor umpire cops all the crap that he gets in (the) paper and Stuart Broad makes them look like fools,” he added.
“From my point of view it’s poor, so I hope the public actually get stuck into him.”
Asked if he felt Lehmann was right to make such a public call for Broad to be abused, Watson, who scored 176 in Australia’s first day total of 307 for four on Wednesday, said: “I’m happy with that. It deflects it from the Aussie team anyway so we’re definitely happy with that.
“Even last time in the Ashes series at home, especially on days four and five, it seemed like we were playing in England with all the ‘Barmy Army’ floating around.”
Earlier this week, Broad said the incident had not been as clear-cut as it seemed.
“It was an odd one. There was no particular noise because of the noise of [Brad] Haddin’s gloves,” he said.
“It’s a bit silly when people say it was nicked to slip because actually it was edged to the keeper’s gloves and flew off the gloves to slip.
“I went down to the other end and Ian Bell was like ‘what happened there, I didn’t hear anything?’ Ashton Agar (the bowler) came up to me and asked if I’d nicked it because he wasn’t sure.
“So it wasn’t as clear-cut as everyone had thought, although I knew I’d hit it.”