Chittagong: Stuart Broad accused the umpires of putting players’ safety at risk after lightning struck England’s opening game of the World Twenty20 on Saturday night. England lost by nine runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method after a rainstorm brought an end to play with New Zealand 52 for one after 5.2 overs, in pursuit of England’s 172 for six.
That was enough for New Zealand to be declared the winners but Broad believed that umpires Aleem Dar and Paul Reiffel should have taken the players off when lightning first began to strike several minutes earlier. At that stage, the minimum of five overs had not yet been completed, and had play been stopped the match would have been declared a ‘no result’, with each side receiving one point.
A lightning flash appeared over the stadium just as Broad was about to bowl to Brendon McCullum, causing the New Zealand captain to step away. But the umpires decided to allow play to continue, after which McCullum hit a six down the ground to put New Zealand ahead on the scoring tables.
The rain came two balls later, and Broad was critical of a ‘distinctly average’ decision that he believed had not only cost England a point but endangered both sides.
“We can feel aggrieved to have that as a loss against our name,” said Broad, who could incur a fine from the International Cricket Council (ICC) for his comments. “It was distinctly average decision-making, keeping us on after the first lightning strike. It’s not sour grapes, because both sides were uncomfortable being out there. It’s a game of cricket. I wouldn’t be putting the crowd’s and players’ safety under threat. I’d have had the players off the field. There are some questions that need asking of the ICC. It’s all very well wanting to finish the game so you can tick a box, but player and crowd safety is very important, and that felt like very threatening lightning.
“Look at golf. A hooter goes and they all clear the course half an hour before the lightning strikes. I personally wouldn’t have taken the risk.”
However, New Zealand bowler Kyle Mills was sceptical of Broad’s motives, saying: “I think that’s probably a bit of a hindsight thing. If Stuart was on the other end of it, he would be more than happy with the decision.”
Broad’s frustration was also partly attributable to England’s encouraging display with the bat, with Moeen Ali, Michael Lumb and Jos Buttler all contributing. It is likely that they will have to win all three of their remaining group matches to qualify for the semi-finals.
The defeat came at the end of a another bad day for England after Luke Wright was ruled out of the tournament with injury. He has been replaced by Craig Kieswetter.