England news July 29, 2010

Rafiq suspended by Yorkshire for Twitter tirade

Cricinfo staff

Azeem Rafiq, the Yorkshire offspinner, has been suspended by his county pending a full investigation after he launched a foul-mouthed rant on Twitter following his omission from the England Under-19 side for the second Test against Sri Lanka at Scarborough.

Rafiq, who captained England to a 199-run defeat in the first Test, fired a scathing attack at coach John Abraham after he was omitted for what the ECB called "inappropriate conduct" and Rafiq is now under further investigation by the board.

After he was told the news of being dropped Rafiq posted: "What a f***ing farsee ... John Abrahams is a useless ****... ECB prove it again what incompetent people are working for them!!"

And he hadn't finished there when he added: "John Abrahams is a useless w****r."

Stewart Regan, Yorkshire's chief executive said: "Azeem's behaviour was totally unacceptable and the club will not tolerate it. Our professional players are role models to aspiring young cricketers and need to behave as such. Whilst Azeem has apologised formally to the ECB, the club and the coach in question the club still intend to carry out a full investigation before deciding on what disciplinary action to take. In the meantime, he is suspended on full pay and unavailable for selection."

The ECB are likely to summon Rafiq to Lord's for a disciplinary hearing, and are considering his future place in the Under-19s.

Andrew Strauss was asked about the incident as he prepared for the first Test against Pakistan. He has had experience of a player getting into trouble over Twitter when Tim Bresnan was forced to apologise for a comment he posted during the Champions Trophy last year and Strauss said players, at whatever age, must take responsbility.

"What I would say is that if you haven't led by example and have let yourself down you've got to take it on the chin and learn from it," he said. "For a start players should be aware that what they write on Twitter is going to be seen by people they might not want it to be seen by. We've had a number of occasions of that happening, so I'd say to be very careful on that.

"The other thing I'd say is that there is a right way to react to things and there is a wrong way and venting your frustration is not the right way to do it especially if you have been in the wrong. You need to take it on the chin and learn from it otherwise there are plenty of other people who can do it better than you."

It isn't the first time Rafiq has been caught in controversy although the previous occasion was much less his fault. Yorkshire played him in their 2008 Twenty20 Cup quarter-final against Durham without realising he wasn't properly registered and didn't hold a British passport.

Graeme Swann is the most prolific 'tweeter' in English cricket with an avid following and has just about avoided pushing the boundaries too much. James Anderson also tweets regularly and the pair often take part in extensive banter. However, Australia batsman Phil Hughes had less success when he announced he'd been dropped for the third Test of the Ashes last year before the team wanted it revealed to the public.

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