PAUL NEWMAN: ECB hypocrites have dug a GIANT hole for themselves with Ollie Robinson thrown under the bus and set to be replaced by Craig Overton – who was banned for telling Pakistani batsman ‘go back to your own f***ing country’ in 2015
- England braced for backlash if Overton comes into the side for Robinson
- He told Sussex’s Pakistan-born Zaidi to ‘go back to your own f***ing country’
- Robinson was thrown under a bus by ECB chief executive Tom Harrison
- England bowler apologised for sending racist and sexist tweets nine years ago
What a social media shemozzle England find themselves in. And what a hypocritical mess the ECB are in danger of making of the whole sorry saga.
To recap, Ollie Robinson was thrown under a bus by ECB chief executive Tom Harrison at Lord’s last week with a strong statement of condemnation — released at the very moment the 27-year-old was on Sky apologising for sending racist and sexist tweets nine years ago.
But so far there has been nothing other than a holding statement about the emergence of a more overtly racist tweet sent by another current England player when he was just 15.
Craig Overton may come into the side on Thursday in place of the suspended Ollie Robinson
Not to mention silence from the governing body over the latest twist to the tale in the form of further historic indiscretions from Jimmy Anderson, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler.
Meanwhile, a player who arguably has less right than any of them to be in England’s second Test squad was practising at Edgbaston and, with some irony, may come into the side on Thursday in place of the suspended Robinson.
Craig Overton, remember, was reported in 2015 for telling Sussex’s Pakistan-born batsman Ashar Zaidi to ‘go back to your own f****** country’ during a county match.
Incredibly, the Somerset bowler was handed just a ‘level one’ punishment and banned for two games, not for the comments but under the ECB’s totting up disciplinary procedure.
England bowler Robinson apologised for sending racist and sexist tweets as a teenager
Overton was asked about the incident in an interview last week and said: ‘I don’t believe I said it.
‘I don’t believe I’m that sort of character. We had Azhar Ali in our changing room and I was the first one to go up and have a chat with him.’ So that’s all right then. I would suggest that Overton’s ‘crime’, which was heard by umpire Alex Wharf and Sussex’s Mike Yardy, was worse and certainly more recent than anything tweeted by Robinson.
If his slate is clean then so should be all those exposed in the last surreal few days.
Robinson was thrown under a bus by ECB chief executive Tom Harrison (above)
And how grubby have been much of the practices involved in exposing these tweets, not least from wisden.com — not to be confused with the great almanack — who dragged another England player into this and then said they wouldn’t name him because he was under 16.
That’s akin to dropping a bomb and running away. Surely posts from sportspeople when they were children should be off limits?
And surely anyone who goes through Twitter accounts in search of trouble is embarking more on a witch-hunt than legitimate journalism.
Better for the ECB to draw a line under these tweets, especially the one posted by a minor at the time, and introduce more educational programmes and vetting measures. Instead they are making an example, and a political cause celebre, of Robinson and digging a gigantic hole for themselves.
DON’T FORGET JIMMY’S AMAZING MILESTONE
It was meant to be Anderson’s big moment. The day he could reflect on the extraordinary record he is about to break by becoming England’s most capped player against New Zealand at Edgbaston.
Instead his Zoom press conference on Tuesday understandably became an interrogation on the whole sorry Twitter crisis that England suddenly find themselves engulfed in. And it degenerated into near farce, too, because of a terrible internet connection at the team hotel.
So it should still be said that Anderson’s 162nd Test appearance is an incredible achievement.
Jimmy Anderson set to become England’s most capped Test player on Thursday
For a fast bowler to surpass Sir Alastair Cook’s record as he approaches his 39th birthday is one of the greatest landmarks in even Anderson’s illustrious career.
Anderson was asked about that career as well as racist and homophobic tweets yesterday and pinpointed the decision of then coach Peter Moores to promote him and Stuart Broad at the expense of 2005 Ashes heroes Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard at Wellington early in 2008 as the key moment in one of the greatest opening partnerships.
‘It was a proper starting point in our Test careers,’ said Anderson. ‘Mooresey brought us in, gave us responsibility and showed faith in us. We still look back on that with great fondness and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it.’ Truly, a record and a partnership to savour.
BLAST MUST NOT BE CONSIGNED TO PAST
A huge year for one of English cricket’s greatest modern success stories starts on Wednesday.
The Vitality T20 Blast is back and begins with defending champions Nottinghamshire taking on Worcestershire in one of what will be a reduced amount of matches being shown by Sky.
They have been reduced, of course, because so much money and attention will go on the Hundred next month.
Defending champions Nottinghamshire take on Worcestershire in the Vitality T20 Blast
But it can only be hoped a T20 competition that continues to grow each year is not completely undermined by the ECB’s big gamble on their new format.
‘It’s one of the most special days of the summer,’ said Ben Duckett, the Notts hero in last year’s win over Surrey, about finals day.
‘It’s as close as you get as a county player to the international stage and I don’t see why the Hundred should change that. It should add to it.
‘I would hate to see us lose fans from the Blast to the Hundred and I don’t see why we should.’
Amen to that.
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