ECB ready to draw line under historic posts and look to the future

ECB ready to draw line under historic posts and look to the future after England’s cricketers were dragged into Twitter storm over discriminatory social media comments

  • ECB appear to have applied an amnesty over old discriminatory Twitter posts
  • Statement emphasised education programmes and reminding of responsibilities
  • James Anderson, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler dragged into storm over tweets
  • It’s understood Ollie Robinson’s censure will be decided in the next few days

The ECB appear to have applied an amnesty on historic, discriminatory social media comments following their suspension of England new boy Ollie Robinson.

In a statement that addressed the damage existing online content was having on their drive for cricket to be ‘a more inclusive and welcoming sport for all’, the governing body revealed that those found to have transgressed previously would be reminded of their responsibilities going forward and undergo education programmes.

It came after senior players such as James Anderson, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler were dragged into the Twitter storm engulfing the England team via their old tweets.

The ECB look set to apply an amnesty on historic, discriminatory social media comments

Jos Buttler (L) and Eoin Morgan (R) were both dragged into the storm over their old tweets

Back in 2010, Anderson joked that Stuart Broad’s haircut made him look like a ‘15-year-old lesbian’ while the World Cup-winning captain and vice-captain appeared to mock Indian English in posts from 2017 and 2018.

Since 27-year-old Robinson’s racist and sexist comments — all made when he was a teenager — were thrust into the public domain, social media timelines of the country’s leading players have come under increased scrutiny.

It has left the ECB in an uncomfortable position. While they want their commitment to inclusivity to be taken seriously, they are now open to accusations of either making Robinson a scapegoat or being forced to use similar sanctions for seemingly milder offences.

The Mail on Sunday understands Robinson’s censure will be decided by the Cricket Discipline Commission within the next 72 hours.

The Mail on Sunday understands a decision on Ollie Robinson will be decided early next week

It had been debated whether the use of the usual protocols in this case was appropriate due to his status — an academy player at Kent and on trial at Yorkshire — during the period of 2012-13 when the offensive tweets were published.

But the ECB board backed the actions of their executive in removing Robinson from the second Test against New Zealand at Edgbaston, and the referral of disciplinary cases to the CDC under the game-wide regulatory system at its meeting last Wednesday.

A social media review, carried out by the ECB in conjunction with the Professional Cricketers’ Association and England men’s and women’s teams, will now ‘address any historical issues, remind individuals of their personal responsibilities going forward, and help them learn lessons along the way’.

The ECB said it ‘was clear that this process would not prevent further disciplinary action in the future, should that be required, under the applicable processes, but it is hoped that the game can emerge from this difficult period stronger and determined to be more inclusive and welcoming to all.’

ECB chairman Ian Watmore spoke of the need to educated players on their responsibilities

ECB chairman Ian Watmore added: ‘Celebrating our many brilliant role models in men’s, women’s and disability cricket is essential to that aim, and the right use of social media is a critical means for achieving it. As the national governing body, we must steer a path between helping individuals project an inclusive image, educating them on what is expected of them and allowing them space to express themselves to the public.

‘We must also investigate their actions and sanction them when they fall short. The board was unanimous in support of the executive in the actions taken by them in the last week and agrees with their plans to move the game forward in a spirit of inclusion, education and personal responsibility, whilst addressing those cases which cause most offence head on.’

The historic amnesty would also allow the player whose racial slurs about ‘going out with an Asian’, made when he was a minor, to remain anonymous.

Robinson’s unsavoury comments were met by polarised responses, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson supporting Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden’s view that the ECB had ‘gone over the top’ with their actions and should ‘think again’.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden waded into the debate and criticised the ECB’s response

Michael Holding voiced his view that people should be allowed to reform themselves over time

Michael Holding, the former West Indies fast bowler, suggested people that make mistakes in their youth should be allowed to reform over time.

But ex-England batsman Mark Ramprakash asked for sympathy not for Robinson but for the people at whom the offensive tweets were aimed.

Another ex-England international Michael Carberry questioned whether he should have any international future.

Racism has become a hot topic within English cricket and an emotive one. Moin Ashraf’s support for his former Yorkshire team-mate on Twitter led to a torrent of abusive replies. He has since closed his account.

On Wednesday, Azeem Rafiq will begin his legal claim against Yorkshire for discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race at a Leeds employment tribunal.

Azeem Rafiq will begin his legal claim against Yorkshire this week at an employment tribunal

Rafiq is also claiming victimisation and detriment as a result of his efforts to address racism during his time on the playing staff at Headingley, the second spell of which ended in 2018.

The 30-year-old recently said that he hoped going public would bring closure but it has been far from a healing process.

England captain Joe Root admitted his team had ‘faced up to some ugly truths’ ahead of restating their desire to derail discrimination by donning their ‘moment of unity’ T-shirts on the first morning at Edgbaston.

A week after ECB chief executive Tom Harrison’s ‘zero-tolerance’ response to Robinson’s eight and nine-year-old utterances, they appear to have concluded that the reputation of the sport will be improved through interventions in the present and future — rather than the past.

England wore ‘moment of unity’ T-shirts on the first morning at Edgbaston earlier this week




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