Ashley Giles supports Joe Root and England halting Ashes Test due to racist abuse from crowds

Ashley Giles has said that he would support England if they chose to stop an Ashes Test because of racist abuse from crowds.

Ashley Giles supports Joe Root and England halting Ashes Test due to racist abuse from crowds
© GETTY IMAGES Ashley Giles supports Joe Root and England halting Ashes Test due to racist abuse from crowds – GETTY IMAGES

“I’d certainly trust Joe Root to do what is right on the field,” said Giles, the director of the England men’s team.

“If he chose to bring the team into the middle of the field and stop the game while that was investigated then absolutely. I don’t think any of our players should be subject to any abuse actually but discrimination and racism particularly.”

In 2019, the England national football team twice halted a match against Bulgaria in Sofia due to abuse that members of the team received. The national cricket side have never previously taken the same step but Giles said that he would support the side if they did. “There is no place for discrimination in our game.”

As English cricket reels from a series of revelations about racism in the game, following Azeem Rafiq’s testimony to MPs, Giles said that English cricket needed to do better at educating players about diversity.

“I’ve been in the game 30 years and in that time, I’ve not had, I think, one meaningful bit of training on the area of equality, diversity and discrimination. So that should be a lesson to all of us.

“We’ve got to educate more, we’ve got to call it out in the dressing room much more if we see it, because perhaps all of us in the past – and I’m not just talking about cricket – have let things go.

“Listening to the players it’s quite interesting that in this area they’ve almost learned most from speaking to each other in the dressing room. And, you know, it’s interesting for me because it sort of tells me that one thing we need to major on is the education and learning piece around this area. I think it’s something we were at times afraid to talk about.

“We clearly need to make sure that everyone has the same opportunities to enjoy the game and play the game. And if listening to the lived experiences of Azeem and clearly they’re the lived experience of others, we’ve got to do much better. And I’m sure we will do much better. Discrimination of any form just isn’t acceptable.”

But Giles said that the game must give “second chances” to players who have made mistakes, admitting that he might have been involved in incidents he regrets during his own career in the game.

“They’re also going to make mistakes. And you know, that’s not an excuse. That’s not an excuse for poor behaviours. But I’m sure all of us have made mistakes at times.

“I’m sure there will be incidents and things I’ve said that I wouldn’t be proud of in a different time in a different context. And you know, I’m sure cricket’s not alone in those experiences but it’s clear we need to keep creating environments where people can keep coming forward and sharing those experiences. And we can talk about these issues. And to do that, we need to educate, we need to share and I think we also need to tolerate.

“Zero tolerance means that there is no acceptance of racism and discrimination – absolutely, that’s completely right. But for me if zero tolerance means that we cut people off, we don’t give second chances, we don’t give people the chance to rehabilitate then I think we’ve got a problem.”

Giles said that the reviews into dressing room culture in all England teams in the men’s and women’s game provided a chance to change the sport for the better.

“IWe are in the public eye very front and centre at the moment. With the issues we have in the game. And it’s great that we can do something about it. We can lead the way hopefully, in sport and in society.

“From a personal point of view, I’m very excited about the chance to be involved in the dressing room cultural review, which I know the captains are very excited about being involved in as well. And hopefully, we can lead the way on that front.

“My experiences of our dressing room are only positive. I’m very proud of the diversity we have in our team. We can always be better. But as I said, these guys have a huge amount of respect for each other. I would go as far as saying they love each other these guys the way they operate together. But I know it has started conversations even around how they talk to each other; young players coming into the team; how we induct people into this environment. So, there’s a lot of thinking going into it and it won’t stop. I know this whole group is very keen to make a big difference in this area.”

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