x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Broad fury at failings in security

Tired and emotional on his return home after surviving the terrorist attack in Pakistan, the match referee Chris Broad launches a furious tirade at the lax security in Lahore.

MANCHESTER // Tired and emotional on his return home after surviving the terrorist attack in Pakistan, Chris Broad yesterday launched a furious tirade at the lax security that left him in the line of fire. The Englishman, who was match referee for the second Test against Sri Lanka in Lahore, was in a van with other officials when gunmen opened fire.

Six policeman and the driver of Broad's van were killed, and seven Sri Lanka players were hurt. Broad, 51, a former international batsman and father of current England bowler Stuart, said he may undergo counselling to help overcome the flashbacks of moments he thought were his last. But he also felt let down over the lack of protection in a volatile country. "We were promised Presidential-style, high-level security, and in our hour of need that security vanished and they left us to be sitting ducks," he said.

"We were isolated and we were left in the line of fire of what was going on. That is an appalling situation. "I had an inkling before the Test match leg of the tour that something might happen. "It was off the back of the International Cricket Council [ICC] meeting where the Oval Test match result had changed, there had been a UN envoy that had been kidnapped in Pakistan and, of course, the Champions Trophy had been taken away from Pakistan. I just felt a little concerned for my own safety, not that this would happen.

"I raised my concerns with the ICC and they passed on those concerns to the Pakistan Cricket Board and they assured me through email that all security would be taken care of. Clearly that didn't happen." Broad, who arrived back via Dubai yesterday, said his thoughts were with those who died or were hurt, including the local umpire, Ahsan Raza, who was shot in the stomach. Broad lay on top of him after he was hit, his shirt covered in blood, and tried to keep him alive with words of comfort.

"He [Raza] was groaning and saying prayers, I guess," said Broad. "He was in such pain. We tried to talk to him, tried to give him some confidence, saying things like, 'hang on in there, we will be out of here soon'. But I don't know if he heard us; I hope I have the chance to ask him that. "I am not a hero. I have not done anything warranting that status. I did what came naturally and what anyone else would do. I just hope he gets through this. He just wants to umpire. He loved doing the job he was doing and got a bullet in the chest for it.

"It wasn't real to me, it's not a position I thought I'd ever find myself in. We all had the same feeling; we were just waiting for a bullet to hit us." As inquests opened into the tragic turn of events, the future of cricket in Pakistan remained bleak. It seems very unlikely anyone would tour there in the near future and Broad believed the UAE was a good option to keep Pakistan cricket alive. "Ijaz Butt, the [Pakistan board] chairman has come out and said that friends will come to Pakistan, but I don't think they have any friends in world cricket that will go to Pakistan after this has happened," added Broad.

"But I would hate to see cricket in that country die. The UAE is an option and I heard that England may offer them the opportunity to play games here. "Somehow we have to encourage the Pakistani people to keep playing cricket. "There also has to be a lot of discussions about cricket and not just the sub continent, but other parts of the world as terrorists appear everywhere." Yesterday, Butt admitted the immediate future of international cricket in the country is bleak. "How can we force them to play in Pakistan if the security situation doesn't improve?" Butt asked. "It has earned Pakistan a bad name in the international community. It was the most unfortunate thing that could have happened. These incidents are out of our control and it could have happened anywhere in the world." Butt said he hoped to convince teams to tour Pakistan again in the future. "Security is the sole responsibility of the government," he said. "We can only assure teams the same security which was provided for the Sri Lankans in the first Test in Karachi. That Test concluded without incident. But we cannot blame teams if they do not travel to Pakistan." Butt saluted the Sri Lankan players for their courage, saying: "Hats off to every Sri Lankan player. Not a single player or official complained in spite of this being the worst possible thing that could have happened to cricket." @Email:akhan@thenational.ae