Conduct Unbecoming Of A QC

Yates offers hearty congratulations to Northamptonshire CCC on their excellent T20 title win last night.  Yates is delighted for them for a variety of reasons not least because Twitter was alive with many many Willey jokes which made him snigger.  The prospect of David Willey playing with Quinton de Kock in the same game looms as a possibility for mass innuendo and immense sniggering and laughter.

This piece was written mostly before the FLT20 Finals Day and would have been posted whether or not Surrey won the trophy.

Dear ECB senior management and Gerard Elias, QC,

Yates will cut to the chase.  Your recent “proceedings” involving Surrey CCC captain Gareth Batty do not reflect well on either of you.   Yates holds no position in Surrey CCC other than that of a supporter, so does not claim to speak for them.  Yates does claim to speak for common sense as a supporter of Due Process and objects most strongly to the laughable CDC “proceedings” which maliciously shafted Surrey.

For the record, Surrey’s response is here and is considerably more polite than it should be in my opinion.

One paragraph worth mentioning here is:

“The club believe that there are a number of uneven mechanisms within the CDC’s processes and we will be providing the ECB with a summary of constructive observations.”

Yates does not have issues with the sanction or the players.  The issues relate to the process, the inconsistency of the ECB in charging players and the vindictiveness of the CDC chairman.

Yates now returns the behaviours to the ECB that they showed to Surrey CCC and Gareth Batty.

In the DCTWO Tribunal, the ECB and Mr Gerard Elias, QC are hereby charged with the following:

  1. Inconsistency and selectivity in enforcing behaviour surrounding The Spirit Of Cricket through ignoring (whether deliberately or otherwise) other behaviours breaching The Spirit Of Cricket during televised games
  2. Refusal to admit mistakes by umpires in the Essex v Surrey game, issue guidance to umpires and reassure players and spectators that this issue will not recur
  3. Sanctioning a one sided disciplinary process which refuses the accused to argue their case and which offers no right of appeal
  4. In the case of Mr Gerard Elias, QC: making a petty and vindictive judgement in contradiction of ECB guidelines, deliberately aimed at preventing Surrey CCC from fielding their strongest side in T20 Finals Day
  5. In the case of Mr Gerard Elias, QC: by acting as he did, conduct unbecoming of a Queen’s Counsel.

During the Essex v Nottinghamshire game there was clear foul language towards umpire Nigel Llong from James Foster and Ravi Bopara, who was wearing a Sky Sports microphone.  James Foster has previous form in bad attitude towards umpires, displays which turned Yates away from supporting Essex.  No action has been taken by the ECB against either player for behaviour that Yates would not tolerate in a village side, never mind a first class side.

In the Hampshire v Lancashire game, Lancashire batsman Karl Brown was (in Yates’ view) cheated out of his wicket when wicketkeeper Adam Wheater knocked the bails off the stumps with his gloves.  Whether the act was intentional or not, Wheater did nothing and said nothing to the umpires about it.  That is, in my view, dishonesty.  Or to put it in simpler language, cheating.  No action has been taken by the ECB against the player for this act of dishonesty.

In the Surrey v Somerset game the umpires failed to correctly call no-ball to two full tosses over waist height.  One of them nearly hit Gary Wilson in the face.   It is hardly surprising that Wilson questioned the lack of decision from the umpire.  In the same situation Yates may well have been moved to Malcolm Tucker-like levels of expletives.

Yates hasn’t seen any statement from the ECB about guidelines or advice being issued to umpires in the aftermath of the Quarter Finals so believes that none was issued.  That is very poor management from the ECB.

The well documented “clash” between Surrey captain Gareth Batty and Somerset’s Peter Trego (both are players Yates admires and has no beef with either) has seen far more attention paid to Batty than Trego.  Why was Batty severely sanctioned (his celebration when he takes a wicket is always the same) yet nothing said about Trego’s part?

A fair process would have had input from the players beyond a written paragraph on an umpire’s report.  But that requires a case for the defence to be put, something the ECB don’t seem to like.

If the ECB believes in consistency then surely it should have charged Foster, Bopara, Wilson, Wheater and Trego?  If the ECB is to position itself as the enforcers of the Spirit of Cricket in England then it must act consistently and be seen to do so.  That means every act which breaches the Spirit of Cricket must be subject to sanction, but by a process that is fair.  Which Mr Elias’ tribunal was not.

Let us examine Mr Elias’ comments:

“This was a high profile televised match with much at stake for both sides. In these circumstances, the Cricket Discipline Commission expects players to have regard to the image of the game and their place as role models, and to control their emotions accordingly.

“Plainly, he [Gareth Batty] acted contrary to the spirit of the game and in a way which brings cricket into disrepute and failed to set the leadership example expected,”

All of the Quarter Finals were high profile televised matches.  Is Mr Elias saying the other three matches were not of a similar profile?

Was not the behaviour of Bopara, Foster and Wheater also contrary to the Spirit of Cricket?

Bopara and Foster are senior players and have represented their country.  They provide leadership and are role models.  Or do Mr Elias and the ECB feel that different rules apply to them?

Adam Wheater might be a younger player but that does not exclude him from the expectations of the Spirit of Cricket.

Let us examine the ECB’s disciplinary regulations:

1.2.5 It is against the Spirit of the Game:

  • To dispute an umpire’s decision by word, action or gesture
  • To direct abusive language towards an opponent or umpire
  • To indulge in cheating or any sharp practice, for instance

a) appeal knowing the batsman is not out

Surely following that logic Bopara, Foster, Wheater and possibly Wilson have also breached the Spirit of Cricket?

Mr Elias will no doubt claim that he is acting under the guidelines laid down by the ECB relating to the Cricket Disciplinary Commission:

3.6.18  Subject  to  the discretion of the CDC Chairman or his authorised  deputy  any  automatic  suspension  under 3.6.14 above shall usually:

(a) commence  with  effect  from  the  day  after  the  day in  which  the  relevant  cricketer  is  notified  by  the CDC  under  3.6.6  above  or ,  if  he  is  engaged  in  a match  on  the  day  of  being  so  notified,  shall commence  on  the  day  after  the  scheduled conclusion of that match;

Why does this shaft the principles of natural justice?

3.6.9 There shall be no appeal from any finding by the Disciplinary Panel on this issue

So the ECB is judge, jury and executioner, with no input from the charged player other than a few written comments.

Under this process Mr Elias does not have to justify his decision or use of discretion.  That’s nice and handy for him.  There were two games before the T20 Finals Day to which the suspension would have applied had Mr Elias not been so vindictive.

A Queen’s Counsel is someone well versed in the principles of English Law.  Because they hold the QC title, they are expected to represent everything that is good and proper about English Justice by their conduct in all aspects of life.  Some feel the title of QC gives the holder added authority.  Yates feels most strongly that it gives them added responsibility.  Just like celebrities should not go round fiddling with kids, and cricketers are expected to uphold the Spirit of Cricket, QCs should not behave in ways which perpetuate disrespect for the principles of Justice.

By presiding over this mockery of due process Mr Elias has done just that and shown himself to be a hypocrite.  His comments about Gareth Batty show him to be arrogant.  Such conduct is, in Yates’ opinion, unbecoming of a Queen’s Counsel; Gerard Elias has shamed the Silk he wears.

The CDC rides a cart and horses through the principles of Justice.  It shows the ECB remains high handed and arrogant yet is also very inconsistent in enforcing the Spirit of Cricket.

The DCTWO Tribunal verdict is clear: Guilty.

The ECB gets a lot right but when it gets things wrong it really gets them wrong.  There is no place for vindictiveness in any disciplinary or judicial proceedings.  The ECB would do well to seek sensible advice on due process and principles of Justice and to appoint someone completely independent as head of any new body to replace the CDC.

Due process respects the principles of justice, allows a case for the defence to be put and is completely transparent.

Yates is sorry if the ECB and Mr Elias don’t like what has been said here.  The solution to that is to change the CDC’s processes.  Simples.