25 May

An independent official from the International Cricket Council (ICC) will supervise any code of conduct cases during England’s matches this summer to counter possible accusations of bias on the part of local referees and umpires.

With the practice suspended of flying in third-country officials, Chris Broad, the former England batsman turned ICC elite panel referee, is expected to preside over most of the six Tests, six one-day internationals and six Twenty20s due to be staged between July and September.

However, when the ICC announces its match officials this month it will make clear that English match referees will not be responsible for handing down punishments on English players or their opponents West Indies, Ireland, Pakistan and Australia for fear of protests. This means that Broad will be largely reduced to the role of supervising the correct running of games, with an ICC teleconference dealing with any code of conduct charges.

Disciplinary hearings are only held if a player or team dispute a charge, and such appeals have become rare given the amount of visual and audio evidence available, but given the contentious history of matches between England and Pakistan, in particular, the need for the system to be seen to work impartially is paramount.

Broad is part of Anglo-Pakistan cricket’s controversial past, having had to be ushered from the field by his batting partner, Graham Gooch, after refusing to walk when he was given out caught behind by a local umpire in Lahore in 1987.

However, he is also remembered as a hero in Pakistan for shielding an injured local umpire, Nadeem Ghauri, during a terrorist attack on a bus convoy outside the same stadium in 2009.

The situation is further complicated by Broad’s son, Stuart, being a member of the England team. Were Stuart, who picked up a demerit point during his most recent Test appearance at the Wanderers in South Africa in January, to face disciplinary action, it would put his father in a near-impossible position.

Two English members of the second-tier international panel of ICC match referees are expected to officiate when Broad is rested, probably from white-ball matches. Both Phil Whitticase and Wayne Noon are inexperienced at the highest level.

Meanwhile, the four English members of the ICC elite panel of umpires — Michael Gough, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough and Nigel Llong — who are expected to officiate all six Tests, will train with the players, having not officiated since late February or early March.

The ICC has recommended that no saliva be applied to the ball and that sweaters and caps are not passed to umpires. Each team will also be given an additional third review per innings under the decision review system.

John Stephenson



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