How far does the rabbit hole go?

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.

James Morgan


  • The thing I’m completely unable to understand about this whole furore is “why do people tweet”? What do they get out of it? Is there some sort of renumeration for re-tweets?

    • It’s the way that lots of people seem to regard Twitter as some sort of private communication channel and not a public forum that is so strange.

  • What will be interesting is if other sports decide to go the same way. How far back do you go and how many potentially fine reputations could be sullied.

  • Well James as someone who worked in India for most of a year and travelled regularly there on business, I will post an opinion on whether Morgan and Buttler’s posts were racist. Apparently they joked about the Indians’ preponderant use of the term “sir”. What sort of sick world have be created that this is viewed as problematic? I did this. I also laughed at my Indian colleagues’ habit of wobbling their heads and looking like they were saying no when they were saying yes. And their inabilty to keep time. And their inability to read a map. I laughed with them, and I laughed about it with my Western colleagues, most but not all of whom were white. In turn, my Indian colleagues took the piss out of my accent, saying I sounded like the Queen even though I don’t, thought I was too uptight about deadlines and laughed hysterically at my in‎ability to eat a “mild” curry and avoid burning to crisp in 20 minutes outside. They used to threaten to lock me on a balcony in full sun when they disagreed with me. I’m sure they had a good laugh at my expense in private, too, just like I did about them.‎ This isn’t racism: it’s an affectionate nod to the different characteristics of different races, the recognition of which brought us together. The number of friends I have in India from that period proves that must be true. I even flew out to a couple of their weddings years later. We laughed at that, too – “2000 people, very small wedding”…‎
    What is going on now with ancient tweets is simply driving people apart, just like the wretched taking a knee business. Ollie Robinson’s tweets were pretty offensive but probably just the musings of a kid trying to fit in with his mates. A one match ban seems appropriate while they sort it out but I hope it goes no further than that. Hauling up Buttler and Morgan, by contrast, is contemptible and should be called out as such.

  • Too much whataboutery and cognitive dissonance, guys…James hit the nail on the head when he said “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.” So, if it offends someone why do it?

    Dealing with past transgressions when victims had no place to respond is tricky as, I would like to think that, the perpetrators probably were clueless about their privelege then. That was then and now is now so that line is easily drawn. Mikey Holding came up with a sensible approach and some form of amnesty a la the ‘truth and reconciliation commission’ concept might be a good solution.

  • Define racism. Exactly, you can use the term to justify almost any criticism of something to fit your personal view. Real racism is Hitler and the persecution of whole races of people, now that’s abhorent, not Butler calling someone “Sir” My dear old Mum used to say “the devil makes work for idle hands”. How true and I’d add that there far more important things to be concerned about in society than an old misguided tweets made on that cess pitt called Twitter 10 years ago. You know all this Woke/PC stuff does nothing to help anybody and just winds up the block heads even more, and potentially could ruin people’s careers to boot.
    This goes further and deeper than cricket, society is becoming riddled with this stuff. What next – Diversity re-education camps? Pity some of these idiots can’t actually do some positive good in society rather than trawling the internet for supposed “indiscretions” made by immature teenagers.

  • As a brown male from India, I don’t really mind those tweets. Crass and unfunny? Sure, hardly worth the furore. The more pertinent issue for me is, why do people constantly need to spew verbal diarrhea on social media platforms? Do none of thse morons seem to realize that anything you post on these platforms stays there forever? I’m more pissed at their idiocy than any actual racist intent.

  • Joe Root: “we have to stay together as a group of players and make sure that we continue to keep trying to improve the sports and improve society through the sport.”

    This is a very explicit statement that sport is a vehicle for social engineering. How are the abilities to hit a ball with a plank of wood and to define what’s good for society related? Elite sport has gone insane with the amounts of money and sense of its own self-importance. Hopefully the large numbers who are tuning out of it might bring the return of some perspective.

    It probably dates from SA winning the Rugby WC in the 1990s. Nelson Mandela was not the saint that most people have wrongly been led to believe, instead he was the perfect model for those who like superficial change so they can feel better while the deep fundamentals remain unchanged. The profound dysfunctionality of SA shows how little the ANC has done for black people in SA except party cronies.


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