Cricket cannot relax regarding security - Chris Broad
A year on from cricket's most shocking and deadly event, match-referee Chris Broad, who survived the harrowing Lahore terror attack, said the sport's hierarchies cannot afford to become complacent regarding security. If they slack in their efforts, Broad fears the terrorists will return.
Broad, 52, was caught in the now infamous terrorist ambush on March 3 last year, when the match officials' bus and that of the Sri Lanka team, en route from their hotel to the Gaddafi Stadium was shot at by masked gunmen. The driver of Broad's vehicle was killed and reserve umpire Ahsan Raza took a bullet, but has now recovered. Several Sri Lanka players were injured in the attack. Broad later said that the passengers in his bus were left "like sitting ducks" and he felt let down by security that had been assured them.
"The third of the third '09 will be with me until I die," Broad told Cricinfo. "It was an unhappy day, not only for me but for the rest of the playing control team over there and the Sri Lankan team. It will be cricket's 9/11. It was a sad day for us and for Pakistan as a country because they wouldn't have wanted anything to happen to foreigners but that's the problem they have at the moment."
While Pakistan are now forced to play their home matches overseas because of that attack and frequent bombings throughout the country, the rest of the cricket world is also now more vigilant than ever to possible attacks.
This month's IPL is set to go ahead in India, after organisers opted to take the event to South Africa last season because of lack of adequate security due to a clash with the country's general elections. This third season, though, has not been without player security fears.
"I'm encouraged by the way that the boards I have dealt with (since) have acted regarding security," Broad said. "I was in India in October-November and they had certainly changed their attitudes regarding security not only for players but for officials also. The concern is that we don't want those attitudes to relax as that is the time when the terrorists would strike.
"Hopefully the boards will continue to improve what we have in place now and ensure that all people involved in international cricket are safe and secure. I say that only because I don't want the terrorists to beat us."
Broad does not know if he would ever return to Pakistan and said he would need to have all the facts regarding security, if international cricket were to return there in his time as a match official. He does, though, have sympathy for the country's plight and that of the cricket board. Ironically, having visited Pakistan as player and official, the ill-fated visit was his most enjoyable one until the attack.
"I have been to Pakistan four or five times and it was one of the most enjoyable tours I've ever had there. The organisation had been very good and socially it was very acceptable as there were more restaurants opening up, the cleanliness within the country was improving. It was a very enjoyable time and it's just terrible that was soured by what happened.
"It's going to be difficult to overcome because terrorism in the world seems to have a foothold. But we have to support the Pakistan people and cricketers as much as we can, though unfortunately, at this moment in time, it's difficult to take [international] cricket back to that country. It's something that is very sad but very true.
"The main issue is they have got to sort out these bombings and terror attacks within their own country. I know it is not the Pakistan Cricket Board's responsibility but it is something that needs to be done and the wider community has to help as much as it can. Otherwise it would be extremely sad to see cricket die in that country."
So, on the anniversary of the attack, does Broad still have nightmares? He revealed in an interview last year that he suffered flashbacks in a cinema on hearing gunshots in a movie.
"Time is a great healer, I don't think about it too often these days but the memories are always going to be with me. The memories are still extremely vivid and they are memories I wish I had never had.
"Cricket has not only changed dramatically since I was an England player [in the 1980s], so much has changed in terms of security just in the seven years I have worked for the ICC. It's a different world to when I was a player."