Why ICC match referee Chris Broad must go
Chris Broad, the controversial cricketer turned ICC Match referee, is pursuing a dangerous crusade against Asian cricketers. This article examines his bizarre record as match official
On November 27, 1987, England’s opening batsman Chris Broad was causing an ugly scene in the middle of Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan. Broad had just been given out, caught behind off Pakistani spinner Iqbal Qasim. But he refused to budge from the crease, contending that he had not edged the ball. He stood his ground, arguing with umpire and bowler, until being finally dragged off the pitch by captain Mike Gatting. Broad’s dislike for Asians had just gone up a notch.
That ill-tempered tour by England, perhaps the most disreputable ever in cricket, had also witnessed a disgraceful shouting match on field between Gatting and Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana, during which the England captain was heard repeating, “One rule for one, one for another,” after an appeal for a catch was turned down. Broad must have decided at that time that he would turn those rules around if he ever got the chance.
Broad’s misbehavior did not stop there. On Jan 30, 1988, in the Sydney Cricket Ground, Broad was bowled by Aussie part-timer Steve Waugh. With typical gracelessness befitting his churlish image, he smashed his bat into stumps in a fit of rage. Later that same year, struck in front of stumps and given LBW for duck to legendary fast bowler Malcolm Marshall in Lord’s, he mouthed off at the umpire for a decision he was clearly unhappy with, before dragging his feet back to the pavilion. The English selectors had seen enough. Obnoxious Broad was summarily axed from the team, and his career ended soon afterward.
Match referee: In December 2003, the ICC made an announcement that shocked cricket fans. The notorious rule-breaker Chris Broad had been appointed ICC match referee, and would start officiating in Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand. Since then, in less than one and a half years, Broad has been referee in 5 series comprising 12 Tests and 34 ODIs, officiating in matches involving every side other than his native England: New Zealand, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Australia, India, South Africa, Bangladesh, West Indies, and Pakistan. During this short time, he has racked up a litany of charges against players from every major Asian cricket-playing country.
Australia tour of Sri Lanka: On March 26, 2004, the Sri Lankan team found that Chris Broad, refereeing in his second series, wasn’t the most impartial judge in town. Justin Langer and other surrounding fielders had appealed loudly for hit-wicket against Tillakaratne. Camera footage had fortuitously caught what really happened: Langer had, ever so unobtrusively, disloged the bail with his hand whilst running over after the ball. But not according to Chris Broad, who unbelievably cleared Langer of all charges after the Australian claimed that it “was not intentional”.
And that wasn’t bad enough, it was just the beginning. Two days later, Broad announced that he was reporting Sri Lanka’s legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for chucking. Murali, the most successful bowler in Test history, had already been cleared after numerous tests by Aussie experts, and the referee decided to take on the test results. Cricketing fraternity in Lanka was outraged by Broad’s unilateral decision to report him, despite the fact that ICC required a report from umpires before the referee could act against a player, which they had not given him.
Broad, during his stint as a radio commentator when England toured Sri Lanka in November 2003, had openly criticised Muralitharan’s action, which made it apparent to the Lankans that he was targeting the Lankan great with referee hat on. Arjuna Ranatunga, the former Lankan skipper who had led the Lanka team from the field in Australia after an Aussie umpire no-balled Murali, made it clear that he believed Broad’s report was motivated by racial considerations. Broad was also reported to the ICC by the Sri Lanka Cricket Board for “boozing” with Australian cricketers in a Colombo bar during the series, which SLC pointed out was gross misconduct in breach of ICC rules.
Harbhajan and other Asian bowlers: Chris Broad has reported Asian bowlers for throwing an astonishing 5 times in his short 1+ year as referee. Most outrageous of these have been his dealings with Harbhajan Singh, the ace Indian off spinner considered by many to be among the 3 best spinners in the world after Murali and Shane Warne. The obnoxious Englishman, now disliked with a passion rivaling Mike Deness, was by now widely suspected of bias against Asians, often despite ICC laws rather than because of them. Last year, Broad also reported Pakistani spinner Mohammad Hafeez and during the Pakistan tour of Australia, and Pakistani paceman Shabbir Ahmad during Pakistan tour of New Zealand, thus achieving in one short year chucking bans on bowlers in all the major subcontinent teams.
For an official with a reputation of reporting bowlers for suspect action, it is thus highly suspicious that Broad has chosen not to report any Australian, New Zealand and England bowlers.
Penalties: Chris Broad has demonstrated that he does not limit his bizarre crusade only to suspect actions. In his short tenure, he has handed out a huge number of fines and bans, the vast majority of them against Asian cricketers. Of these, he has punished Pakistani captain Inzamamul Haq an amazing four times in the first four months of 2005, including 100% fines and a Test ban. Broad also levied harsh fines on Shoaib Akhtar and Lakshmipathy Balaji for ‘excessive appealing’. Needless to say, he has never found an Aussie bowler guilty of this offense, despite the fact that they are well known to be among the most over-the-top appealers. He handed out a 70% fine to Indian captain Sourav Ganguly for a slow over rate in 40+ degree temperatures. Someone needs to tell the ICC that outright racism is not better than being a couple of overs behind in extremely hot conditions. Someone also needs to point out to them that Chris Broad’s crusade against Asian players is well documented on their own web site.
This much is obvious: the ICC, by appointing Broad to matches involving India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, is deliberatly sweeping aside evidence that shows this loose cannon needs to be reined in, even rubbing it in by repeatedly forcing him on the subcontinent nations. It is absolutely critical to cricket that Chris Broad be removed from ICC’s panel of referees immediately, as Mike Deness was before him. Any other course would divide the cricket-playing countries even more deeply than they already are.