Essex County Cricket Club are at the centre of controversy after Muslim player Feroze Khushi was sprayed with alcohol during celebrations after the final of the Bob Willis Trophy.
Khushi, a 21-year-old batsman, acted as 12th man during the final at Lord’s between Essex and Somerset last weekend.
While taking part in celebrations on the team’s balcony, he was photographed recoiling as teammate Will Buttleman sprayed him with beer.
While Buttleman’s actions were probably more a case of over-exuberance than malice, they haven’t gone down well within the cricket world.
Alcohol is prohibited in the vast majority of the Islamic community, with Buttleman’s actions leading to an angry response from Sajid Patel - the co-founder of the National Cricket League in East London and Essex.
“The poor bloke is stuck in the corner of the balcony and couldn’t really move,” Patel said.
“The only thing he could have done was jump off. The photo of someone pouring alcoholic stuff on him – that was diabolical.
“You have to question the players involved. All player associations in cricket should give their players cultural awareness lessons.
“It’s brilliant to see Essex win another title, but also frightening to see this is happening.”
Essex address furore over Feroze Khushi photos
Essex have since released a statement admitting the celebrations “did not meet the inclusive values of the organisation.”
“As an organisation, Essex County Cricket Club prides themselves on their work within multi-diverse communities throughout the county and the surrounding areas,” the statement said.
“For a substantial period of time, Essex have had a multi-diverse team with players from different backgrounds, religions, and races, where cricket is at the heart of these communities.
“The club has worked extremely hard and will continue to bring cricket to anybody and everybody, and educate on diversity, but further work needs to be done across both sport and society in general, to widen people’s knowledge and make them more aware of cultural differences.
“Essex County Cricket Club are in regular dialogue with the ECB and the PCA around the education and development in this area.”
However Patel believes the statement falls short.
“I’m not really satisfied with that,” Patel told ESPNcricinfo.
“We’ve been discussing such issues for a long time. I would have thought the answers to these issues had filtered down by now.
“I don’t think there’s any benefit in blaming one, young player. Looking at those photographs, it seems the issue is more about ignorance than malice. No doubt the young man will learn from the experience.
“But I do blame the whole system. I do blame the team manager and the senior players who didn’t foresee this problem. I do think the PCA should be doing more to educate young players in this regard.
“We’ve seen the England team manage their celebrations in such a way that the Muslim players are included. We should be better than this by now.”
England’s move to accommodate Muslim players
The England cricket team have moved to accommodate players with similar beliefs in recent times.
After their victory at the 2019 Cricket World Cup, platers waited for Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid to leave the winner’s podium before spraying champagne.
“I find it weird that people still think it is strange that we do it,” Moeen wrote in The Guardian at the time.
“We respect our teammates and their desire to do this, they respect our beliefs. It’s really that simple.
“The amazing thing about our team is that guys took time out very early on to talk to us about our religion and our culture.
“They have made adjustments for us and we have for them. And we live in harmony.”
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