MacLaurin: Stokes has put two fingers up to team chiefs
As the fall-out from the Ben Stokes street brawl continued this weekend, the incoming MCC president Lord MacLaurin has described Stokes’s actions in Bristol as “like sticking two fingers up to the England management”.
MacLaurin served as chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board between 1997 and 2002, a period when Nasser Hussain led the team and the players were more accessible to the general public than they are now. Yet he never had to deal with such a flagrant breach of discipline.
“I remember on my first tour to Zimbabwe [in 1996-97], at least one newspaper sent someone out to try to get the players in trouble,” MacLaurin told The Sunday Telegraph. “We had fiery cricketers, Nasser, [Graham] Thorpe, [Phil] Tufnell, but they all behaved impeccably. As far as Stokes is concerned, he has had issues before, he has been sent home from a tour of Australia, but he hasn’t learnt from those mistakes.
“Michael Vaughan suggested that players ought to have minders, and that’s one way of looking at it. But it’s totally immature, to be earning all that money and throw it away by staying out until 2.30am. The England management have expressed their confidence in the young man, made him vice-captain, and it just feels like he has put two fingers up to them.”
It so happens that the chairman of the ECB’s disciplinary committee, Tim O’Gorman, is MacLaurin’s son-in-law. At some stage, O’Gorman and his panel will have the responsibility of deciding on an appropriate penalty for Stokes’s conduct, but not until the police investigation has reached its conclusion.
“You can’t prejudge what will happen,” said MacLaurin, who officially takes over from Matthew Fleming as MCC president today. “But it just seems very sad. I think it depends entirely on what the police say. If they charge him, then it’s very unlikely he will go to Australia. But if there are extenuating circumstances that come to light then the ECB might think again.
“Stokes is such an important part of our team, but if the worst comes to the worst he could go to prison, which would be the end of him, certainly for a while. But I do have confidence in the ECB to make the right decision. I know the three leading characters very well – Colin Graves, Tom Harrison and Andrew Strauss – and I know they will be as sick as dogs about it.”
Man at the top: Lord MacLaurin officially takes over today as president of the MCC