Australia v West Indies, 3rd Test, Perth December 20, 2009

Unfair treatment for Benn

Chris Broad needs to explain why he chose to hand Benn a more stringent penalty under the code of conduct, than Australians Haddin and Johnson

Anyone who has followed Sulieman Benn's career, not least those who play against him in Barbados club cricket, know that the beanpole left-arm spinner is no saint. There are previous convictions on his disciplinary record at West Indies and club level to reveal his feisty nature on the field.

But the International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee Chris Broad, the former England opening batsman, needs to explain why he chose to hand Benn a more stringent penalty under the code of conduct, suspending him for the next two one-day internationals, than Australians Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson, who were fined for their on-field altercation during the third Test in Perth but can continue playing.

Benn, supported by team manager Joel Garner and captain Chris Gayle, pleaded not guilty at a hearing with Broad. The Australians pleaded guilty, pre-empting a hearing. The code of conduct penalises players for "conducting themselves in any way that is not in accordance with the spirit of the game".

Surely all three were involved in the relevant incident. As Tony Greig, the former England captain, now television commentator, stated afterwards "a blanket should be thrown over all three, with the same penalty".

An ICC statement quoted Broad as saying: "The decision to find Sulieman guilty of a Level 2 offence is indicative of the fact that conduct contrary to the spirit of the game is completely unacceptable. I hope he has learnt his lesson and will be careful in the future."

Yet no similar comments were directed at Haddin and Johnson. Indeed, Broad rebuked Haddin for provoking Benn but warned only the West Indian that if he transgressed again within a year his charge could be upgraded to level three.

The West Indies management in Australia has stated that, while it will not appeal Broad's decision, it will send a letter of protest to the ICC over the disparity. Broad has previously suspended Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir for a Test for elbowing Australian bowler Shane Watson who was fined 10% of his match fee for "inappropriate verbal engagement with an opposing player" in the incident.

Yesterday Broad again had to deal with Watson on the fourth day of the final Test against West Indies in Perth. This time he fined him 15 % of his match fee for the same offence, not showing due respect for the opponent, by running down the pitch and screaming at West Indies captain Chris Gayle after dismissing him.

Broad's euphemistic comment for the snarling Australian was that "Shane is a very energetic and enthusiastic bowler but on this occasion he has gone too far". But not far enough for a suspension which, seemingly, doesn't apply to Australians.

Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for nearly 50 years

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