YORKSHIRE last night said they are unhappy with the England and Wales Cricket Board’s decision to ban their captain Andrew Gale for a further two games after he was cleared of using racist language.
Gale will miss the champion county match against MCC in Abu Dhabi next Spring and the opening game of the County Championship season, having already been banned for the final two games of last summer for verbally abusing the Lancashire batsman Ashwell Prince – a suspension which prevented him from lifting the Championship trophy.
The ECB, who have also ordered Gale to attend an anger management course, were unable to make a charge of racism stick after he told Prince, a black South African, to “f*** off back to your own country, you Kolpak f*****” during a heated, two-sided exchange in last month’s Roses match at Old Trafford.
Kolpak cricketers are those born outside England but able to play in this country as non-overseas players due to European Law, and there has been some resentment among county professionals that they are taking the place of home-grown players, which is the context in which Gale made his comment.
Yorkshire will now seek meetings with the governing body in an attempt to review and improve the sport’s disciplinary procedure after an episode that has undermined the credibility of the ECB, whose decision to further sanction Gale will be widely perceived as an unsuccessful attempt to save face as opposed to any warranted punishment.
In a statement yesterday, the ECB did not have the good grace to clear Gale of racism explicitly, but instead did so tacitly when they said that the matter had been resolved without recourse to a formal hearing of their own Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC), to whom his case was referred.
The ECB’s stance – unstable at the outset – effectively collapsed a fortnight ago when Prince told a South African internet radio station that he did not consider Gale’s remarks racist, since when the governing body have been trying to extricate themselves from a hole thought to have been fashioned, to a greater or lesser extent, by Giles Clarke, the volatile chairman.
A compromise agreement was reached with Gale, who is understood to be upset with how he has been treated but also anxious to put the matter behind him after a summer in which he played a key role in helping Yorkshire to their first title since 2001.
Mark Arthur, the Yorkshire chief executive, last night delivered this reaction to the ECB/CDC ruling.
“Yorkshire County Cricket Club are not happy with the outcome of the Cricket Disciplinary Commission,” he said.
“We will be seeking meetings with both the ECB and the CDC in the future to discuss the process of what has happened over the last month and the interpretation of the regulations going forward in an effort to have greater clarity and consistency.”
Arthur added Yorkshire will not make any further comment.
Gale, who is unable to comment, was initially given a two-match ban on September 3 after being reported by umpires Steve Garratt and Steve O’Shaughnessy for a Level Two breach of the ECB disciplinary code: using language or gesture that is obscene or of a serious insulting nature to another player, umpire, referee, team official or spectator.
The ECB referred the matter to the CDC to ascertain whether further action was needed and, on September 11, one day before Yorkshire clinched the title, the ECB then charged Gale with breaching ECB Directive 3.2 (failing to conduct himself fairly and properly on the field) and ECB Directive 3.3 (conducting himself in a manner which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or which may bring the ECB, the game of cricket or any cricketer or group of cricketers into disrepute).
The board said these charges were brought in respect of comments that “caused offence and/or may be perceived as discriminatory as a result of the reference to the nationality of the person to whom they were made”.
The statement added: “Mr Gale admits that his conduct was improper and contrary to these ECB Directives.
“He acknowledges and deeply regrets that the words he used caused any offence and, in particular, that they could have caused offence as a result of the reference to the nationality of the person to whom they were made. Mr Gale wishes to express that this was absolutely not his intention.”