Reports: ECB prohibits players' interaction with media amid increasing off-field controversies

Both England and Australia cricket have been in turmoil due to racism and sexting scandal, respectively.

England cricket
England cricket. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

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England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has reportedly prohibited its players from interacting with the media following the Azeem Rafiq racism row and Australia captain Tim Paine’s off-field scandal, reports in the Daily Mail claim.

English cricket has been in turmoil ever since former Yorkshire off-spinner Azeem Rafiq exposed the racist culture at the club. Yorkshire admitted Rafiq to be a victim of racial harassment during both his stints with the club but denied any disciplinary or penal action against any member based on an internal committee enquiry.

Rafiq later gave an emotional testimony to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee in the British Parliament, where he made a slew of shocking revelations, including how Asian players were asked to “sit near toilets” in Yorkshire dressing room, and the use of racial slurs “Kevin” and “Pa**” by team members.

“Pretty early on at the club, I joined a dressing room full of my heroes, Michael Vaughan, Matthew Hoggard, part of the 2005 Ashes team. And it was just the most surreal moment for me,” Rafiq said told DCMS select committee.

“Pretty early on, me and other people from an Asian background … there were comments such as ‘you’ll sit over there near the toilets’, ‘elephant washers’. The word ‘Pa**’ was used constantly. And there just seemed to be an acceptance in the institution from the leaders and no one ever stamped it out.”

“All I wanted to do is play cricket and play for England and live my dream and live my family’s dream. In my first spell, I don’t really think I quite realised what it was. I think I was in denial,” he added.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated incident, Australia’s Tim Paine announced his decision to step down as the Test skipper after the inappropriate messages sent by him to a Tasmanian female co-worker in 2017 came to the light.

“On reflection, my actions in 2017 do not meet the standard of an Australian cricket captain, or the wider community. I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and pain that I have caused to my wife, my family, and to the other party. I’m sorry for any damage that this does to the reputation of our sport,” Paine said during a press conference in Hobart.

“And I believe that it is the right decision for me to stand down as captain, effective immediately. I do not want this to become an unwelcome disruption to the team ahead of what is a huge Ashes Series.”

His resignation has left Cricket Australia with a task of finalizing the leader for the team before the Ashes at home, which starts on December 8 in Brisbane. Despite Pat Cummins being termed as the frontrunner for the role, CA seems inclined towards naming Steve Smith as the captain after he was stripped from captaincy following the Newlands ball-tampering episode in 2018.