County cricket September 19, 2014

Prince did not consider Gale outburst 'racial slur'

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ashwell Prince has said that Andrew Gale's tirade in which he called him a f****** Kolpak did not cross his mind during the heat of the argument as a racial slur.

Gale has been since charged by the ECB with racist abuse - the first occasion this charge has been levelled in English domestic cricket.

Prince was speaking to the South African internet-based radio station Ballz Radio, his first comments since the incident which led to Gale facing an ECB disciplinary charge.

"I took offence at the way he spoke to me. To be quite honest, I didn't stand there and think that might be a racial slur," he said. "The guy walked towards me and had a go and I defended myself. The ECB feel it has racial connotations and it's up to them to do whatever they want to do."

The ECB's escalation of Gale's charge to a full disciplinary hearing has created much debate on whether the Kolpak term - a reference to the EU legislation named after the Slovakian handball player, Maros Kolpak, which allows certain overseas players to be classed as locals - can be termed a racial phrase or purely a technical term.

The rest of Gale's uncouth exchange, in which he is believed to have told Prince to "f** o** back to your own country", will also come under ECB scrutiny. Prince's comment that he did not perceive racial abuse was in answer to a direct question about the Kolpak term - but he did not level allegations against any other part of Gale's verbal assault.

Prince was more intent on insisting that he did not start the confrontation and, although he admitted he was trying to waste time towards the end of the third day of the Roses match at Old Trafford, he dismissed it as common practice.

"I don't think I've come across anyone in my 270-odd first-class matches who has abused a fielder for moving from backward point to silly point, so to suggest I sparked off this incident is laughable," he said.

"I didn't say anything. I was stood in the middle of the pitch as it was coming to cut-off time, they were bowling two spinners and wanted to bowl as many overs as possible. Obviously, the experienced player I am, I was stood in the middle of the pitch tying up my thigh pad and taking as long as possible to make sure there would only be one more over.

"He's taken offence to this - it's a ploy of timewasting, I'll admit this but everyone who has ever played the game as done it, it's nothing new - and he's come from backward point to silly point, walking in my direction, and hurled a whole lot of abuse at me. Those who know me and those who have played against me know I will not tolerate that type of thing. I defended myself and whatever was said, was said."

Gale was charged with a Level 2 offence under the ECB's code of conduct by the two umpires standing in the match - Steve O'Shaughnessy and Steven Garratt - and immediately banned for two games under the totting-up procedure. The charge was subsequently escalated by the ECB to a Level 3/4 offence with Gale informed he was accused of using racist and abusive language.

Lancashire have remained silent on the affair.

Gale's hearing is now likely to take place in early October rather than next week due to a clash with the final week of the Championship which would have impacted the availability of key witnesses. Prince will therefore be available for Lancashire's final match of the Championship season in which they face a relegation-decider against Middlesex.

After being banned for the rest of the season, Gale was not allowed to be involved in the official presentation of the Championship trophy at Trent Bridge after Yorkshire beat Nottinghamshire after the ECB felt "it would not be appropriate" with the disciplinary process ongoing.

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