ECB chief executive Tom Harrison has spoken about his ‘concern’ over player behaviour following the recent rape trial of Worcestershire all-rounder Alex Hepburn.
The board sought to reassure cricket’s sponsors and commercial partners before the trial – in which a jury failed to reach a majority verdict – that they are taking measures to educate players about their conduct.
Hepburn could yet face a retrial, while two former county team-mates, Joe Clarke and Tom Kohler-Cadmore, were dropped from an England Lions trip to India after it emerged during the court case that they were part of a WhatsApp group discussing sexual conquests.
Tom Harrison has spoken about his ‘concern’ over player behaviour
Alex Hepburn could face a retrial after a jury failed to reach a majority verdict in the rape trial
With Ben Stokes and Alex Hales both charged last month for bringing the game into disrepute following their part in a late-night brawl in Bristol in September 2017, the ECB are sensitive to reputational damage – not least because they are putting the finishing touches to plans for a new family-friendly 100-ball competition, starting in 2020.
‘What cricket means to people is this underlying sense of decency and team spirit, so we take it incredibly seriously,’ said Harrison.
‘Clearly there’s a concern out there with commercial partners about some of the stories, but we work very closely with them to explain what we’re doing on the back of some of these societal trends.’
Harrison said the ECB had been working closely with the Professional Cricketers’ Association to educate players on matters such as ‘gambling, drinks, consent and recreational drugs use’.
Ben Stokes (above) and Alex Hales were charged for bringing the game into disrepute
He added: ‘We have to redouble our efforts again this season to make sure those messages are renewed and updated as to exactly how we tackle some of this behaviour, which is definitely a concern.’
Harrison also moved to allay fears that The Hundred would not cater for existing cricket lovers after suggestions last year that the tournament would target new fans only.
‘It absolutely is for existing fans, and I’m sure cricket fans will be very excited about it,’ he said.
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