Another day, another row about racist tweets. This time an unnamed 15 year old plus a certain Mr Buttler and Mr Morgan are in the spotlight.
From the ECB’s perspective, their heads must have dropped when they saw the names of the players involved. It really couldn’t be worse. Jos has always been Mr Squeaky Clean and a potential captain in waiting. Meanwhile, Eoin is a captain. He’s the inspirational leader of England’s World Cup winners. Oooops.
Punishing Ollie Robinson was one thing. He’s expendable. He’s just a foot soldier who’s played one Test match. Punishing these two senior players (and they don’t get much more senior) will be an entirely different matter.
The ECB are now in an unenviable position where they might have to decide what constitutes racism and what doesn’t. And obviously whatever they decide, it’s bound to infuriate a huge number of people. They’ll be damned if they do punish these players and damned if they don’t.
Personally I don’t want to get into a debate about whether Buttler’s tweets were offensive or not. I’m insanely busy at the moment and I simply don’t have the time to nail my colours to any particular mast and argue a cause. I’m also acutely aware that, as a middle class white guy who’s fortunately never suffered racism, I simply don’t feel qualified to write about the subject with any authority. I really don’t know what to say.
The bottom line is that many will find these latest tweets incredibly offensive and insensitive whilst others won’t be bothered by them in the slightest. Indeed, I’ve probably irritated all of you already by either failing to condemn the tweets in the strongest possible terms or refusing to say it’s all a storm in a teacup. Please forgive me.
What I will say, however, is this. I have no idea how far does this particular rabbit hole goes. This is extremely dangerous territory and it could be very damaging for the sport. What on earth is going to happen next?
Will the ECB, as the excellent George Dobell suggests, declare an amnesty and allow players to come forward under the understanding that only future tweets will result in punishment?
Or alternatively, are we going to see a whole host of further revelations as those who dislike Jonny Bairstow’s hair or the way Mark Wood stands (aka hungry journalists or cricket supporters who simply don’t like England) go mining historical social media posts in a desperate attempt to unearth the next big scoop? This could be the mother of all feeding frenzies.
The ECB have got the job from hell in the coming days. What I should clarify, however, is that (to correct my previous post) I’ve since discovered that it’s actually the PCA’s job to monitor players’ social media profiles. And they only look at current Tweets by existing international players. .
Does this get the ECB off the hook? Maybe a little. But ultimately the buck still stops with them. The current arrangements were clearly unsatisfactory and a lot more should have been done to preempt this shit storm.
The question now is how long the storm will last and how the ECB deal with it. One imagines they’ll try to work out which way the wind is blowing and muddle through the best they can.