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December 5, 2013
Cricket Australia was compelled to make an apology and hurriedly re-shape its social media policy after the governing body's official Twitter account posted a stock picture of four bearded, turbaned men dressed up as Teletubbies with the caption "will the real Monty Panesar please stand up?".
Posted in the hour before the start of the second Ashes Test match at Adelaide Oval, the tweet was subsequently removed and an apology posted in its place after the image and the reference to Panesar drew howls of outrage from around the world.
Later in the day the @cricketaus account was re-branded as CA Digital Media, "the independent news arm working out of Cricket Australia". A second account has been created under the name @CAComms, described as "official communication from Cricket Australia, the governing body for professional and amateur cricket in Australia".
"We certainly apologise for any offense caused with the tweet. It wasn't our intention to offend and it has promptly been removed from Twitter," a CA spokesperson said. "To reiterate, if the tweet was interpreted in a manner that offended Twitter followers, we certainly apologise for that. This has been addressed internally and CA acknowledges it was an error of judgement."
The tweet was described by numerous online critics as an example of "casual racism", while numerous English writers expressed their displeasure in no uncertain terms. Martin Samuel, chief sports writer for the Daily Mail, delivered a particularly stinging critique in a piece headlined: "So, all Asians look the same and we need to put them in Teletubbies outfits to tell them apart? That's not right, Cricket Australia, and Monty tweet is insulting and demeaning".
"They want to win the stupid banter battles, they want to be as edgy as the worst of the press box warriors, they want also to be the respected rule-makers and the natural home for lovers of cricket and lovers of fun. But they haven't got a clue," Samuel wrote. "By the time the first wicket had fallen in Adelaide, the comedians were in full retreat.
"The four Montys had been taken down, an apology was being hastily issued, but that really isn't good enough. Cricket Australia are not there to insult their guests, to affect mental disintegration with ham-fisted racial slurs and crude, misjudged attempts at humour. Their job is to run cricket. And with two Australian wins in the calendar year, and an Ashes Test starting in a half-built stadium, it could be argued they need fewer gags and more old-fashioned administration."
The tweet arrived days after CA had themselves stood down the ground announcer for England's tour match in Alice Springs, David Nixon, after he introduced Panesar to the middle in a manner that the governing body described as "inappropriate".
During the Lord's Ashes Test earlier this year, CA launched an internal investigation after a tweet was posted questioning an umpiring decision, followed by the hashtag "#bullshit". The governing body has built a large digital and website team for the 2013-14 summer, with the intention of becoming a serious additional source of news on the game.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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