MacLau­rin: Stokes has put two fin­gers up to team chiefs

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Football - By Si­mon Briggs

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

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