Stokes on charm offensive but sponsors decide to reassess options
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