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August 23, 2013
The ECB has stepped up the pressure on Australia's coach, Darren Lehmann, for his attack on Stuart Broad by accusing Lehmann of "incitement" and warning that they will take "all necessary steps" to ensure Broad's safety in the return Ashes series in Australia this winter.
England's unforgiving response looks bound to lead to the safeguard of additional security for Broad throughout the Australia tour in case Lehmann's comments on a Melbourne radio station lead to threats of aggression against him.
It is not clear whether the player has expressed concerns about his safety. Neither has there been any indication from Cricket Australia about whether they regard any such fears as remotely justified.
Lehmann, the first coach to be fined by the ICC for making comments about an opposition player, pleaded guilty to a charge of "publicly criticising and making inappropriate comments" about Broad during an intemperate interview, characterised by laddish banter, on the Melbourne radio station Triple M on the eve of the Oval Test.
He had invited the Australian public to target Broad and accused him of cheating for not walking during the first Test at Trent Bridge when he clearly edged a catch which rebounded to first slip off the wicketkeeper's gloves.
"I hope the Australian public give it to him right from the word go for the whole summer," Lehmann said. "And I hope he cries and goes home… Certainly our players haven't forgotten; they're calling him everything under the sun as they go past. I hope the Australian public are the same because that was just blatant cheating. I don't advocate walking but, when you hit it to first slip, it's pretty hard."
Lehmann has been widely condemned in the media and by former players including the ex-Australian captain Ian Chappell for double standards and unprofessional behaviour.
He was also fined 20% of his match fee by Roshan Mahanama, the ICC match referee after an intervention by the ICC's chief executive Dave Richardson.
Richardson said: "Whilst noting the context and nature of the comments made, showing mutual respect for one's fellow professionals - including for coaches, players and match officials - is a cornerstone of how we play the game."
The ECB has decided, however, that the matter should not end there, issuing a statement on Friday evening which read: "England and Wales Cricket Board, having reviewed the disciplinary process undertaken by the International Cricket Council overnight, have welcomed the swift action taken and also noted Cricket Australia's acceptance of the sanctions handed down to their team coach Darren Lehmann.
"The ECB, in supporting its players, management support staff and their families, believe no one in the game condones incitement of any kind and we will take all necessary steps to ensure safety on tour. The ECB now wishes to bring this disappointing incident to a close and will make no further comment."
Lehmann, it seems, has yet to adjust to an increasingly globalised world where somebody in his influential position can no longer temper his message to a selective audience without it becoming more public knowledge.
It remains to be seen whether his relaxed, outspoken attitude can prove successful in the present-day environment where every comment is logged, analysed and held to account.
England's public statements, by contrast, are repeatedly criticised as anodyne, but they generally possess a measure of self control which ensures they are not left open to the same allegations.
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