Rana rerun and all that Gatt

Chris Broad remembers his part in the Faisalabad saga that shook the cricket world
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The Independent Online

The hairs bristled on the back of my neck. I walked through the gates, then the players' entrance. They were as I remembered them. On through the police guard, the tunnel under the stands and out into the sunshine. There was the ground itself.

The hairs bristled on the back of my neck. I walked through the gates, then the players' entrance. They were as I remembered them. On through the police guard, the tunnel under the stands and out into the sunshine. There was the ground itself.

The Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad. Images flooded back of players sitting round, waiting for play to start, of officials swarming from meeting to meeting and of the press simply waiting. It all hit me.

The dressing rooms are similar, the red carpet covering the steps to them is still there. Faded now. People are still milling round. I walked out on to the middle. I stood at mid-off, where I had been all those years ago when it began: the confrontation between Mike Gatting and the Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana in the Second Test.

I had not been back to Faisalabad since. England had not been back. But the memories had not gone. They never will. It had been three weeks since I arrived in Pakistan this time, and nothing in either Peshawar or Lahore had reminded me so clearly of that infamous tour. The grounds have been redeveloped, they could not help to conjure up the old images.

It all changed here, in the Manchester of Pakistan. It could have been yesterday. The Serena Hotel where the players stayed then was the same. There, I gave a press conference after scoring a hundred on the first day. There, the players had their team meeting to decide the future of the tour because of the stand-off. The stadium's familiarity was eerie.

The recollection was almost total. Eddie Hemmings, the off-spinner, was bowling and after four balls of his over Gatting brought up deep square leg to save the single. He did not want the batsman, Salim Malik, to steal a single to reach the other end. We had a chance of another over and wanted to bowl at the nightwatchman.

All this I saw before me. I saw Gatting, fielding at backward short leg, diagonally opposite me, put his open hand down to signal to David Capel at square leg to hold his position. I knew what was going on. Salim was well aware.

And then it happened. Rana went over to Gatting. I could not hear their conversation. But it has become the stuff of legend. Standing there again, I went over it.

"Mr Gatting, you're not allowed to move the fielder when the bowler has started his run-up, that's cheating."

"Cheating?" said the England captain. "The batsman knows the England fielder is up saving the single, I didn't want him to come any closer. You're the cheat for halting play." This is the gist of the exchange. The expletives on both sides have been deleted.

Suffice to say that we didn't get the extra over we wanted. There were times when we might not have bowled another over ever again. The aftermath of that exchange rumbled on for days and years.

Whether the incident had anything to do with the fact that Pakistan were in danger of not matching England's first-innings total of 292 must remain open to conjecture. But there is no question that England felt aggrieved. That incident, I still believe, was blown up out of all proportion. But it was the culmination of weeks in which English displeasure had been growing. There was real dislike in the party at the way we were treated.

It had all been allowed to fester. Pakistan had been upset that a couple of umpires to whom they objected in England the previous summer had not been replaced. Hasib Hassan, their manager, had stipulated that England would have to accept the umpires they were given.

Clearly, he was getting his own back. In the First Test at Lahore, umpire Shakeel Khan gave, by England's estimation, nine dodgy decisions, all in Pakistan's favour. It was not how I had been brought up to play the game.

It was why, in the second innings, I refused to walk when given out to another contentious decision. If it was wrong, on the reflection of years, it seemed justifiable at the time. In the dressing room, not long afterwards, I cried, overcome by the emotions and pressure which the incident had wrought.

Faisalabad was almost a natural consequence. It led indirectly to neutral umpires and match referees. Which is not to say that such an incident is entirely impossible now. Two teams in hot competition can cause it. Two teams like Pakistan and England.

But this unexpected return here as a commentator for TalkSport has been wonderful. Our hosts have been a pleasure to be around, their hospitality has been excellent. What happened then will never leave me, but this return to the old haunts has laid some of the ghosts to rest.

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