Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan are two of England's most senior players

Credit: Dan Mullan/Pool via REUTERS

The England and Wales Cricket Board are investigating historical tweets posted by senior players Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan after they appeared to mimic Indian people saying “Sir” in posts sent in 2017 and 2018.

The messages have been widely circulated on Twitter in the wake of the ECB’s decision to suspend Ollie Robinson for posts that were made in 2012 and 2013 when he was still a teenager.

Screenshots have also been shared of a message by Buttler in which he says “I always reply sir no1 else like me like you like me” and, separately, Morgan includes Buttler in a message which says, “Sir you’re my favourite batsman”.

Some messages have since been deleted but, in the wake of the ECB’s crackdown over social media use, the governing body will investigate the latest posts to have come to light and decide whether action needs to be taken. 

Although there are questions over the precise context of the tweets, they were written at a time when Buttler and Morgan were established England players and have caused offence on social media. Buttler is the current England vice-captain and he plays for the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.

Morgan, who plays for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, is the all-time leading run scorer and most capped player for England in limited overs matches, having been appointed one-day captain in 2015.

James Anderson was also dragged into the controversy when a tweet emerged from 2010 containing a homophobic reference during a conversation with Stuart Broad.

“I saw Broady’s new haircut for the first time today. Not sure about it. Thought he looked like a 15 yr old lesbian!” he wrote.

Anderson will play his 162nd Test match this week, breaking the record set by Sir Alastair Cook and was forced to explain the tweet from over a decade ago.

“For me it’s 10-11 years ago, I’ve certainly changed as a person. And I think that’s the difficulty, things do change, you do make mistakes,” he said. Anderson admitted there is a lot of anxiety in the squad as they fear what could come out next. “Yeah, I guess. I think it’s something we need to look at.”

The ECB board has come under pressure to review its treatment of Robinson after Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned its “over the top” suspension of the bowler.

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Robinson, 27, has been suspended indefinitely by the ECB pending a disciplinary investigation into the racist and sexist social media posts which came to light when he made his Test debut at Lord’s last week.

The seamer apologised for the tweets, saying he was “embarrassed” and “ashamed” by what he had written in his teens, but has been offered no guarantees that his international career will continue.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said that while the posts were “offensive and wrong”, the teenager who wrote them “is now a man and has rightly apologised. The ECB has gone over the top by suspending him and should think again”.

The ECB confirmed it will investigate Morgan and Buttler’s tweets, and it is also investigating another unnamed player over “historical offensive material” on social media after a post was “brought to our attention”.

An ECB spokesperson said on Tuesday: “Since we were alerted to offensive tweets last week, a number of historical social media posts by other individuals have been questioned publicly as well. There is no place for discrimination in our sport, and we are committed to taking relevant and appropriate action where required. 

“Given the concerns which have been raised are clearly now broader than a single case, the ECB Board will discuss how we deal with issues over historical social media material in a timely and appropriate manner. Each case will be considered on an individual basis, looking at all the facts. We will assess cases with the ECB Board before making further statements.”

The ECB is considering a reporting amnesty, offering the players some level of protection if they come forward now with anything they have said or done in the past that might be deemed offensive now. 

They would still be facing some form of disciplinary action but much less severe than if they keep quiet now and something emerges at a later date.

The governing body is also likely to contract an external company to vet the tweets and social media messages of all England players and those in the pathway and Lions programmes. 

Other sports governing bodies have been looking on carefully over the past week and are constantly refining their own policies. The British Olympic Association have been working with individual governing bodies ahead of the Tokyo games and, as well as monitoring and advising athletes, are supported by the organisation Theseus who monitor threats and trolling.