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Joe Clarke and Tom Kohler-Cadmore to face disciplinary hearing for role in infamous WhatsApp game

Former Worcestershire duo could face sanction for their off-field behaviour in wake of Alex Hepburn rape trial

George Dobell
George Dobell
Joe Clarke drives, Surrey v Worcestershire, Specsavers Championship, Division One, Kia Oval, May 6, 2018

Joe Clarke drives  •  Getty Images

Joe Clarke and Tom Kohler-Cadmore are to face an ECB Cricket Disciplinary Commission (CDC) hearing after being charged with bringing the game into disrepute.
Clarke and Kohler-Cadmore were named during the trial of Worcestershire allrounder Alex Hepburn as members of a WhatsApp group that exchanged disrespectful messages about women in what the judge described as a "pathetic sexist game to collect as many sexual encounters as possible". Hepburn was jailed for five years in April having been found guilty of rape.
The pair were dropped from the Lions squad that toured India in January while the outcome of the trial was unknown. Since its conclusion, the ECB has been reviewing the evidence and deciding whether to bring charges. ESPNcricinfo understands they have now decided to proceed and the case will be heard by the CDC, which describes itself as an independent body responsible for discipline across the professional game in England and Wales.
The players have been charged with breaching ECB Directive 3.3. The directive states: "No Participant may conduct themself in a manner or do any act or omission at any time which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or which may bring the ECB, the game of cricket or any Cricketer or group of Cricketers into disrepute."
The CDC has the power to impose suspensions, heavy fines and the termination of registration. The ECB has previously confirmed that neither man will be considered for representative selection - either England or England Lions - until the investigation and any subsequent hearing is concluded.
Clarke's form has dipped sharply since it became apparent he could be facing a CDC case. He has been dismissed for a duck three times in his last seven innings and has not made a first-class 50 since the first week of April; a run that includes nine innings of 12 or fewer in 11 visits to the crease.
He remains a highly rated young player, however, and may well have won a maiden England call-up in recent weeks had this case not arisen. With England resting those players who had been involved in the IPL and without Alex Hales (deselected) and Jason Roy (injured), they were without several first choice top-order batsmen at the start of the international season. Ben Duckett won a recall for the T20I against India in Cardiff in May, while Phil Salt was called up as batting cover. In normal circumstances, Clarke and, perhaps, Kohler-Cadmore might have expected to be ahead of them.
The CDC hearing sustains a concerted effort from the ECB to improve the image of the game since the incident in Bristol in September 2017 that led to the trial - and acquittal - of Ben Stokes. The months since have seen much soul-searching within the game - not least around the England teams - and a greater acceptance of players' roles in inspiring and appealing to a new generation of supporters. The message - that higher standards of behaviour are expected of modern players - is clear.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo