In the first part of our ‘Know Your Match Officials’ series, we had a chat with former England opener, Chris Broad.
Chris Broad is a sportsman at heart and has always enjoyed being around sports fields. So, it is no surprise that he continues to enjoy his position as a member of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees, 14 years after his first assignment.
Growing up playing different games and excelling in one, the left-hander played five years of international cricket and 15 years of the first-class game before his second stint with cricket came through a surprise call from the International Cricket Council.
The 60-year-old, who played 25 Tests and 34 ODIs between 1984 and 1989, recalls his early days as a match official and how he got a call to meet up with then ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed and ICC cricket committee chairman Sunil Gavaskar offering him the job of a match referee. He was put on the reserve list straight away and got to officiate in another 18 months.
Broad, who has the unique distinction of slamming centuries in three consecutive Tests of an Ashes series (in 1986), concedes that he was nervous during his maiden Test as a match referee, between New Zealand and Pakistan “around the Christmas of 2003” since he was still getting to understand his role.
“As anyone starts a new job, they are always going to be nervous because they are unsure of what is going to happen but very quickly I found that the umpires were a great support to me,” he said.
“The players, although they did not know what my role was, soon got to understand it. I have enjoyed every moment of it.”
His international debut as a cricketer was different as he took up the challenge of taking on the formidable Windies side of the time which had a bowling attack including the likes of Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner.
“I was one who enjoyed fast bowling, so for me it was a real challenge and something that I enjoyed.
“I remember being told by captain David Gower, the Sunday before the Test match that I was involved in the game on the following Thursday. The whole of that day when we were playing a Sunday league game – it was a blur.
“It was an amazing day and very exciting for the three or four days leading up to the Test match. Fortunately, I got a start – I got a 50 in the first innings of the Test match, so it was an encouraging start,” he remembers with pride.
Asked to pick top moments from his cricket career, Broad says it is the whole experience that counts.
“Just being able to go out on some of the great grounds of the world and play a sport that I have loved since being a youngster and still love today, the team spirit, the camaraderie within the team dressing room is something completely different to anything else that I will ever know, adds Broad, who plays golf to keep fit.
On his cricket discussions with son Stuart, the senior Broad says there have not been many.
“He had cricket coaches at school – both of whom were international cricketers – Frank Hayes and David Steele, and the last thing he would have wanted was to come home and get his dad telling him how to play a shot or how to bowl a ball – so we did not talk a huge amount of cricket as he was growing up, but I have followed his career closely and enjoyed every moment of it,” he adds.
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