Stokes on charm of­fen­sive but spon­sors de­cide to re­assess op­tions

The Cricket Paper - - NEWS & VIEWS -

AC­TIONS have con­se­quences and while Eng­land are re­serv­ing judg­ment over Ben Stokes’ drunken brawl his kit spon­sor, New Bal­ance, is not – the Amer­i­can com­pany ter­mi­nat­ing its deal with the all-rounder with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

The move fol­lows one by Greene King, the brew­ers, who pulled an ad­ver­tise­ment fea­tur­ing Stokes as well other Eng­land play­ers. Greene King are team spon­sors so will still carry the ads that do not fea­ture the all-rounder who Eng­land have sus­pended un­til fur­ther no­tice.

This cut­ting adrift by spon­sors co­in­cides with the charm of­fen­sive launched by Stokes and his agents at In­ter­na­tional Sports Man­age­ment, which be­gan with a tweet apol­o­gis­ing to Katie Price for his al­leged mock­ing, on video, of her son Har­vey, who suf­fers from autism and blind­ness.

The use of tech­nol­ogy and so­cial me­dia to pub­li­cise what should have been a pri­vate con­tri­tion, ap­pears cyn­i­cal, but then the scru­tiny for to­day’s play­ers, be­cause of it, is far greater, too.

Things have cer­tainly changed. When Ian Botham was banned from play­ing first-class cricket for pos­ses­sion of cannabis in 1986, only the more pruri­ent news­pa­pers con­demned him. In­deed, a leader in lam­pooned the whole episode,

but then Eight­ies Bri­tain was a more re­bel­lious place.

When Robin Smith decked a rugby player for racist abuse to­wards Malcolm Marshall, his Hampshire team-mate, there were no cam­era phones or CCTV to cap­ture the ac­tion. Like Stokes, Smith broke his fin­gers. At the time, Smith’s cause ap­peared a no­ble one, some­thing yet to be es­tab­lished with Stokes de­spite ru­mours that he was a knight in shiny T-shirt and train­ers.

But with record­ing de­vices in ev­ery pocket now, you have to won­der what drives play­ers to be so reck­less and, given Stokes and Alex Hales’ rep­u­ta­tions for scrapes and japes, why Eng­land’s se­cu­rity de­tail was not on hand to rein them in? Th­ese are no doubt ques­tions the ECB’s dis­ci­plinary panel are now seek­ing an­swers to be­fore the team heads off to Aus­tralia later this month.

Stokes gets mar­ried on Satur­day. What money that his next tweet, pos­si­bly early next week, is that mar­riage has calmed him down?

Calm­ing in­flu­ence: Ben Stokes and fi­ancee Clare

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