Andrew Gale: The Answer is Blowin’ In the Wind


There is no equivalent of Kick it Out, football’s anti-racism group, in cricket. But the ECB certainly seems intent on kicking Yorkshire’s captain in the nether regions.

Last week Andrew Gale was denied the chance to lift the county championship trophy because he was serving a ban for abusing Ashwell Prince. Now we hear the ECB have officially charged Gale with making a racist slur.

So what exactly did Gale say? By all accounts, after being confronted by Prince, and told to fornicate back to his fielding position, Gale told Prince to fornicate back to his own country, while using the word “Kolpak”.

I hope I haven’t offended all the ethnic Kolpakians by using this highly controversial term … one that has appeared in the mainstream media on a regular basis for several years.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so facetious. While the ECB’s decision to charge Gale for using the word “Kolpak’ is clearly ridiculous, and about as racist as calling someone from South Africa a South African (or maybe a Saffer), racism is a very serious subject.

Like David Hopps on cricinfo, however, I fail to see why the ECB are making a stand over this particular incident. It just seems weird.

Cynics would suggest, of course, that the ECB want to reclaim some kind of moral high ground after backing Jimmy Anderson so strongly after the Jadeja incident this summer.

They might want to show that they do actually take abusive behaviour seriously after all – just so long as it doesn’t inconvenience the test team or hurt Alastair Cook’s job prospects too much.

However, none of this seems particularly fair on Gale. Making an example of someone, just because a governing body is worried about looking weak, just isn’t cricket.

I’m not saying that Gale is an angel – it’s below the belt to tell any foreign born player to sod off back to his own country – but making Gale the first country cricketer to be charged with racism seems ill advised and a tad disproportionate, especially when the term ‘Kolpak’ seems innocuous.

What do you think?

James Morgan


  • Earlier when I saw the report about him being charged over the Kolpak term I thought typical ECB Clowns. However now that it seems Gale may have told him to go back to his own country then I can understand why this is being referred further as that phrase is not good at all.

    • I know exactly where you’re coming from Ian. However, from what I’ve read the ‘go back to your own country’ bit isn’t important. The case will apparently hinge on whether ‘Kolpak’ is a racist slur or not. Seems a bit odd to me.

  • Ian

    I would be interested in hearing your views on why this case is different from the way so many people in the English and Australian press insist on highlighting the South African players such as….Strauss, Prior, Pietersen, Trott (strangley not Ballance). The English press are certainly insinuating that these players are not worthy of playing for England, even if they do not actually state it.

    • I am not comfortable with their use of this phrase either. They qualify for England and I am happy to have had those players here.

  • I have seen some speculation (thus far un-evidenced) elsewhere that more racially charged words were used – which might explain the ECB’s action.

    Barring that, I can’t add much to what David Hopps said in the comments section over at Cricinfo, which seems to me eminently sensible:

    davidhopps1 on (September 18, 2014, 13:57 GMT) – Staff member
    As I have been quoted, I should clarify. Yes I did say this elsewhere today: “I believe in implacably fighting racism where it clearly exists. I do not see enough justification here. The ECB should be educating players on what is not permissable and demanding umpires clamp down on on-field abuse in general at all levels of the game. What we have instead is random gesture politics from within the UK hierarchy, an experimental show trial in a case so weak it will cause a backlash and actually harm the fight against racism as well as harming the reputation of one of its own cricketers. That cannot be good for the game.” In my view this is not racism, it is a tinge of xenophobia, a trading of insults. A two-match ban, move on, wd have been appropriate. Overreact and the real racist apologists have a field day and the battle against real racism suffers…”

  • I believe (and I could be wrong) that the odious Giles Clarke stuck his oar in and referred the original disciplinary committee ruling back for”review”?
    As well documented, Jimmy Anderson had the full ECB backing for calling Jadeja an effin’ C. There was nary a squark out of Clarke and his henchman after the Moeen Ali abuse at Edgbaston, as far as I understand?
    Gale has captained his side selflessly and magnificently, a fine example to other wannabe “Captains”,and now subjected to hurt and humiliation by those arseholes in the ECB in a way that is beyond parody for a simple exchange of everyday insults to the South African, Ashwell Prince.
    What have they got against bloody good cricketers that can bat a bit, Captain well, have a pair of gonads,and are very much their “own men”…..Oh, I know, they haven’t got one!!!!!

    • Sorry…”Squark” is the Cumbrian pronunciation of “squawk”….it’s grim up North! ;-)

  • How many jobs has the ECB doled out to former England cricketers who were quite happy to go on rebel tours of South Africa and receive large amounts of Krugarands from a racist regime? I don’t believe for one moment the ECB gives a flying toss about racism. They don’t seem too bothered about the booing of one of their own players by an Indian crowd. Not one person has been banned. But that would mean going to war with the Indian cricket nation.

    Why have he ECB charged Gale now after they initially banned him? Was the ban not an end to the matter? Excuse my cynicism , but it seems Gales real offence was to not (if I may use a phrase from the cricket past) grovel in front of the all powerful ECB. They were furious that he turned up to the match at all. Never mind the presentation ceremony. Increasingly the ECB run cricket like a medieval Monarchy. In their feudal world players are meant to obey their Lords and Masters. The feudal bosses will even invade TV studios to shut down criticism of their good bloke, handsome prince. Gale didn’t show enough contrition. He dared to mock them. Not a good idea with this bunch of cut throats.

    And what about the charge itself? Is Kolpak a racist term? Is Kolpak even a race? South Africa is made up of many races. Now some will say this is all banter and it should stay on the field. That is exactly what the ECB claimed when Jimmy Anderson was in the dock. Of course he was not accused of racism. He just called some one a “f*****g c**t. Is that less offensive than Kolpak?

  • Where is kolpack? As it stands, Gale has not made a comment about Prince’s race, colour or creed. Simply telling him to go back to his country, doesn’t make him a racist. It’s not right, as Prince brings his quality to the county game, enriches the county game, and has every right to earn his living here.
    The ECB are so out of touch with cricket and society in general that it is embarrassing! They are trying to claw back some dignity from the debacle of the last 2 years, by taking the moral high ground in a matter that they have blown completely out of proportion!
    Gale has made a comment, in the heat of the moment, that he probably regrets, and didn’t mean. So, haul him in, dress him down, ask him to apologise to a fellow professional and move on. For goodness sake, grow up ECB, you are killing our sport!

  • They did haul him in and dress him down by banning him. This seems like vindictive “afters” to me.

    As I say, Gale did not show his ECB masters enough contrition. He needed to bow and scrape a bit more. They are a pathetic governing body. But then the bar is very, very low in this country for governing bodies. The FA has been unfit for purpose for ages. And the 57 old farts at the RFU are now embroiled in a mess about shirt designs.

  • It will be interesting to find out if Ashwell Prince felt he’d been racially abused or just rudely sworn at. I could understand if he took exception to the ‘fuck off back to your own country’ bit, it’s not acceptable and Gale should have had to make a public apology (he probably did). If Prince is saying he perceived it as racist, then fair enough.

    But the accusation seems to have come from the umpires and then the ECB, those loyal defenders of the sweet-tongued James Anderson.

    Well, as has been pointed out, perhaps not the deputy chairman of the ECB, Mr Colin Graves. It is a very interesting situation.

    • Giles Clarke obviously being aware of Lyndon Johnson’s view on J Edgar Hoover: “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”

  • Most people, when finding the words to have a go at someone, in the heat of the moment, grasp hold of the first thing they can think of – something which is different or distinctive, in a negative way, about the person they want to abuse. Gale probably chose the word Kolpak not because he’s a racist, but that he couldn’t think of anything else to say.

    • “Gale probably chose the word Kolpak not because he’s a racist, but that he couldn’t think of anything else to say.”

      If the only thing you can think of to say is xenophobic/racist, what does that tell you about yourself?

  • Obviously to ban Gale, and label him a racist, for the use of the word “kolpak” is ridiculous. However, phrases like “eff off back to your own country” are, I think, widely understood to embody racist views. I guess if you take the sentence on its own, it’s not necessarily racist as such, but it’s certainly something a racist would say…

    Taking that into account I can kind of understand the ban.

    That being said, this is still a fairly transparent piece of “gesture politics” by the ECB, who showed absolutely no sign of taking the abuse of Moeen seriously at all. (Since it might have hurt them in their wallets).

  • Would telling one of the Scottish born players to “eff off Jock” qualify as racist and, if not, will it become so if the Independent State of Scotland gets voted in?

    All a bit ridiculous I reckon.

  • ‘Go back to your own country’ would normally have pretty strong racist or xenophobic connotations, but there’s an element of literalism which gives this situation a certain nuance.

    Prince is an overseas Test player. The ECB sets limits on overseas players to try to stop counties filling their teams with ringers, but Kolpak is a way round that. You end up with foreign players flying a flag of convenience to occupy a spot in a team intended for a domestic English cricketer.

    By using a flag of convenience the player’s nationality will always be a matter of contention. Prince is alleged to have told Gale:

    “F*** off back to cover”

    To which Gale rejoined:

    “Well f*** off back to your own country, Kolpak” or something similar.

    Yorkshire’s tolerance of Prince had worn wafer thin by this point. His sledging and time-wasting had pushed relations to breaking point.

    I suspect that Prince is Cape Coloured played a part in the ECB’s decision, too. A lot of people have trouble distinguishing between an insult directed at a person of a different race, and a racist insult. It’s a classic white-liberal reaction to over-compensate. Maybe the spectacularly high number of rebel tourists in their ranks made the ECB self-conscious.

    A situation which has parallels to Kolpak without having any race or nationality issues might be the NRL salary cap. Much like the overseas player quoter, the salary cap is there to stop a wealthy club from packing its team with stars. Rather than using Kolpak, clubs use illegal payments – or ‘unders’ – to fund big name signings.

    When teams are suspected of doing this, the star players they can’t possibly afford to pay inevitably become the focus of the opposition’s ire. The feeling that people are using sneaky means to gain an advantage always grates.

    Of course, Yorkshire got good mileage out of Rudolph…

  • The bigger issue here is the general behaviour of players on the field, and the authorities sometime hypercritical & often blasé handling of such matters.

    Time and time again the word “banter” is used to defend poor behaviour. But this banter is never defined. “A bit of fun” say some. The Australians have turned this into an art form, and have been the worst offenders for decades. It helps that they are brought up in a culture of play hard on the field, and then have a beer afterwards. Trouble is, not everybody wants to take dogs own abuse for hours, against them and their family and then be expected to turn up and have a beer with their tormenters. And anyway Steve Waugh let the cat out of the bag when he talked about ” mental disintegration.” The targeting of players is not banter.

    Some old hands say ” leave it to the umpires.” But the umpires have very little power to stop it. They can call the captains together, and have a word with the offenders. But they have no real sanction if it continues. Certainly not to send a player off. As a result we get this very haphazard approach where, for seemingly no real reason, the authority’s crack down on a particular incident. I have no problem with a tougher approach. What I object to is a governing body who has spent the summer , and a lot of money defending one of their own players for poor behaviour then using their power to come down on another. Especially as there seems to be a vindictiveness to the charge.

    • Except that in this case, the umpires did take action – reporting Gale for a level 2 offense, which resulted in an automatic 2 match suspension.

      Here’s a report of Prince’s account of the incident (along with a denial that he alleged racism):

      Thus far I’ve read nothing to suggest that the ECB should have done anything other than let the two match suspension stand.
      I don’t defend Gale’s behaviour, but the racism charge is muddled, of doubtful motivation, and likely to be counterproductive.

  • It now turns out, as Nigel says, that Prince was not behind the charge of racism. This is an ECB thing. Paki may be racially offensive, but Kolpaki isn’t.

    • I would have used the term ‘Biltong Muncher’, but my South African mates would’ve laughed at me (I probably eat more than them!)

      Ps I fully expect the ECB to charge Mitchell Johnson with racism next summer every time he calls Root a ‘Pommie B*****d’. They’ve set the standard now.

      Oh, and any spectator that uses the world ‘convict’ will be expelled from the ground asap. Copies of the Barmy Army song book will become contraband.

  • Prince declares that he did not consider Gale’s remarks to be racist! Well, well, well, this is gonna be fun!!

  • Telling someone to fuck off back to their own country is clearly unacceptably xenophobic, if not outright racist.
    I find it hard to think that anyone would attempt to defend Gale over this unpleasant slur. He was right to be banned.

    • You seem to stgruggle with the meaning of words. It is not racist to invoke another country. Would telling a naughty child to go home be unacceptable and xenophobic and racist?

  • So Prince says that a) he did not bring the charge against Gale and b) he does not regard the term ‘Kolpack fucker’ as racist abuse. Another own goal by the stupidly officious ECB.

  • The Kolpak comment was certainly innocuous. But the stuff about going back to his own country was not.


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