Review will ‘address historical issues’, remind players of responsibilities and ‘help them learn’
The ECB have announced a “social media review” after admitting the sport’s attempts to prove itself inclusive have been “severely diminished” following the emergence of a series of historic tweets by players.
In the following days, numerous further historic tweets from high-profile players came to light which also looked at odds with the standards and values expressed by the current England team and ECB executive.
Coming at a time when the sport is desperate to promote a more inclusive image, it left the ECB board admitting in a statement on Saturday that its “aspiration to become a more inclusive and welcoming sport for all” was “severely diminished whilst discriminatory content remains in the social media space”.
The ECB board therefore confirmed a social media review designed to “address any historical issues, remind individuals of their personal responsibilities going forward, and help them learn lessons along the way”.
The statement went on to say that the ECB will work with various other bodies, including the PCA (the players’ union) to agree the terms of reference for a review. Further disciplinary action has not been ruled out, but the statement hints that education will be the key tool of progress.
“Making cricket a game for everyone is central to the game’s Inspiring Generations strategy,” Ian Watmore, the ECB chair, said. “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 the 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 [ECB] 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.”
There was also an admission from Rob Lynch, the PCA chief executive, that “there is always more we can do”. Current arrangements see the PCA advise players on their social media content and monitor the Twitter and Instagram accounts of current England players. There is no system of reviewing historic posts.
“We are committed to working with our members and the ECB on further education and there is always more that we can do,” Lynch said. “We will consult with our members and work with the ECB to develop terms of reference for a social media review, which in turn, will lead to better insight and an opportunity to improve.
“Our commitment, as always in times like this is to ensure the ECB process is fair and considered and to offer support, advice, and education to all of our members.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo