Lancashire condemned offensive tweets involving five players on Friday amid intensifying scrutiny of English cricketers’ social media use.
More than 50 historical posts dating back to 2011 were unearthed by the Lancashire Telegraph newspaper, which allegedly contained racist, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-disability content.
Richard Gleeson, who was selected by England as Covid cover last summer, Alex Davies, Josh Bohannon, Liam Hurt and Luke Wells, who joined from Sussex, were reportedly the account holders. Lancashire confirmed it had launched an "immediate investigation" into the messages, with Davies, Hurt and Bohannon all under 18 when the tweets were sent. The messages were removed this week after the local newspaper revealed them to the county.
The renewed furore comes after a week in which the England and Wales Cricket Board made the controversial decision to suspend Ollie Robinson for postings made in 2012 and 2013 when he was a teenager. The ECB has since launched probes into social media use by senior players after Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan appeared to mimic Indian people saying "Sir" in posts sent in 2017 and 2018
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.
The investigation into the offensive tweets by the Lancashire players will be led by the club, but the ECB will review whether its code of conduct has been breached.
Daniel Gidney, chief executive of Lancashire Cricket, said: “Lancashire Cricket strongly condemns the use of any discriminatory language or behaviour by any member of the club’s players or staff at any point in time.
“We abhor all forms of discrimination which, as a club, we find totally unacceptable. We are currently undertaking an immediate review and investigation and the relevant information has been referred to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). We will respond in due course, but the club won’t be making any further comment at this time.”
The ECB, which has yet to announce its next steps with regard to Robinson, says it wants "cricket to be inclusive and welcoming to all, and there is no place for discrimination".
"First-class counties have their own processes for dealing with allegations relating to their players, and the ECB also has established processes for considering matters such as these when referred to us," a spokesman said in relation to the investigation at Lancashire.
“As well as introducing a new Anti-Discrimination Code of Conduct across cricket this year to supplement our existing regulations in the professional game, we have also worked with the Professional Cricketers’ Association to put in place an education programme for players to help ensure our sport can be the game for everyone we want it to be.”
Robinson, meanwhile, has been ruled out of Sussex’s first two T20 Blast games as he takes a break. "After a difficult week, Ollie has decided to take a short break from the game to spend time with his young family," Sussex said on Thursday.