Rafiq suspended for one month after Twitter tirade
Azeem Rafiq, the Yorkshire offspinner, has been suspended from all cricket for one month and ordered to pay costs of £500 after being found guilty of two breaches of the ECB Directive following his foul-mouthed Twitter attack on the England Under-19 coach John Abraham.
Rafiq, who captained England to a 199-run defeat in the first Test against Sri Lanka U19s, reacted to his omission from the second match at Scarborough (which England won) by firing a scathing attack on Abraham via Twitter, which read: "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."
A Cricket Discipline Commission panel - comprising Edward Slinger, Ricky Needham and Matthew Wheeler - convened at Lord's on Tuesday to consider two charges, firstly that there had been a breach of ECB Directives by personal attack in a public statement, and also that the game had been brought into disrepute by that public statement.
According to an ECB statement, Rafiq pleaded guilty to both charges and apologised unreservedly for his actions, but was suspended from all cricket under ECB jurisdiction for a period of one month from July 26, and ordered him to pay £500 towards the costs of the hearing.
"The panel considered this to be a serious breach of the regulations particularly given Rafiq's position as captain of the England U19 side," continued the statement.
Rafiq's county, Yorkshire, had already suspended the player indefinitely for his outburst, with Stewart Regan, the chief executive, stating: "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."
England's captain, Andrew Strauss, was asked about the incident as he prepared for the first Test against Pakistan. He 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.