Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Referee Broad And The Code Of Conduct

Chris Broad, a current ICC Match Referee appeared on a BBC Radio 5 programme during the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge. The title of the programme, as per the show's website was Chris Broad on whether Stuart Broad should have walked. The discuss involved Mark Pougatch, Alec Stewart (former England wicketkeeper, opening batsman and captain) and Chris Broad.

In response to Pougatch's question "Should batsmen walk?", Broad said the following:

"That kind of gets into that area doesn't it? Listen. An umpire and players are there to make decisions as they see fit at that time. Batsmen bat, bowlers bowl, fielders field, umpires umpire, and I think its generally accepted that umpires make decisions just as much as batsmen and bowlers make decisions. And you don't get match officials going into the team room saying 'You dropped that catch, you cost your side the game', just as you don't get players going in and questioning umpiring decisions. Its just one of those things that has happened and I supposed is involved in the game in the last few years, and people accept it."

He further asked,  "Would we be having this discussion if we were Australian". Continuing this line of argument, Broad said it was irrelevant to the discussion whether the batsman in question was English or Australian, just that this conversation was taking place on BBC 5 because it was an English show.

"Are we having this discussion because we are English?"

On his son Stuart, Broad reported the following
"I texted him afterwards, and asked him 'How did you keep such a straight face'"

Alec Stewart's contribution was in the form of an analogy. He asked us to imagine driving at 35 in a 30 mph zone, and then, once we became aware of it, imagine that we went straight to the police station and ask to be given a ticket. Pougatch's response was the he would slow down to 30. Whether Stewart got the implications of Pougatch's point (which shows that Stewart's analogy is inexact - to put it generously) is not clear.

Pougatch had the final word, at least until the moment the programme ends on the BBC's website. He asked why Broad walked off when he was finally out on the 4th day. Stewart tried to say that it was because the Umpire gave him out, but Pougatch corrected him and said Broad walked off before the Umpire game him out. I might add here that the edge for which Broad walked was thinner than the one for which he had stood earlier.

What stands out in Broad's appearance is how little insight he had on the matter of whether batsmen should walk. It turns out that an ICC Match Referee's view of the matter is as mediocre and commonplace as that of a narrowly partisan England fan, or "everybody-has-a-job-to-do" dead ender. Even if the latter were the dominant view (and it isn't, plenty of journalists and players frown on players standing for blatant edges like Stuart Broad did), you would expect a referee to be able to explain the matter with some sophistication. While he is obviously welcome to his view, you would expect someone in his position to be able to provide succinctly an overview of the issue at stake, and the different views about it. Leave aside sophistication, what is even more startling is how casually he draws an equivalence between players and Umpires. He makes the rather bizarre observation that players don't go in (i assume he means to the TV Umpires' room) and question umpiring decisions, and this is just as umpires' don't go into dressing rooms after games to provide some accounting of why the result turned out as it did!

The other obvious, and obviously problematic thing is that a current match referee thinks it appropriate to joke (and make the joke public) with a current player about a controversial event on the field.

There is currently no Code of Conduct that applies to Match Referees. When I asked the ICC for its opinion about Chris Broad's participation in the BBC 5 Programme, their response was that "[t]hese are the personal views of Chris, which are not in the capacity as a match referee." This may be technically true, but it is obvious that Broad was invited on that program because he is a current ICC Match Referee and father of Stuart Broad. Broad was explicitly introduced as "a current ICC Match Referee". His views were sought because he held this position.

The ICC is currently drafting a Code of Conduct for Match Referees. According to ICC, the work is being done by their Ethics and Regulatory Lawyer and will be combined with existing umpires and the support personnel codes. The code will have to be approved by all the usual ICC committees. The project to write a code for referees was started in late 2012.

Broad's conduct shows why such a Code is urgently necessary.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I think Australia takes right decision for not support drs system any more....

  3. surprised that u didn't mention that the same chris broad thought that the fielder's job included telling the umpire that he had grounded the catch (Ramdin faced a 2 match ban by Match referee Chris Broad for having claimed a grounded catch)