Joe Clarke, Tom Kohler-Cadmore on England blacklist after WhatsApp revelations

11:29 AM ET

Joe Clarke and Tom Kohler-Cadmore, the pair of highly rated England Lions batsmen, have been informed they will not be considered for selection until further notice.

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 earlier this week having been found guilty of rape.

While neither Clarke or Kohler-Cadmore were charged – the judge clarified in his summing up that Clarke “did nothing wrong” on the night of the attack – it is understood the ECB was concerned by the content and tone of the messages. The ECB’s Cricket Discipline Commission is currently deciding whether to bring a case against either man and has informed them they will not be eligible for selection – either for the full England team or the Lions – until those deliberations, or the subsequent disciplinary proceedings, have reached a conclusion.

The ECB withdrew Clarke and Kohler-Cadmore from the Lions squad to tour India earlier this year for the same reasons.

Clarke’s current suspension is particularly pertinent. He has started the 2019 season in fine form – he made 112 and 97 not out on Championship debut for Nottinghamshire and is currently averaging 53.16 in this year’s Royal London one-day competition – and might well have been in line for selection for the ODI in Dublin on Thursday.

England are without several first choice top-order batsmen, either through injury or being rested after the IPL – while Alex Hales was dropped after failing a drugs test – so have recalled the likes of Ben Duckett (averaging 28.80 in the Royal London Cup) and Dawid Malan (averaging 34.60). Had Clarke been available for selection, there is a strong likelihood he would have won a call-up.

Hepburn, Clarke and Kohler-Cadmore were all team-mates at Worcestershire at the time of the rape in April 2017. Clarke joined Nottinghamshire at the end of the 2018 season, while Kohler-Cadmore left for Yorkshire midway through 2017. Steve Rhodes, who was Worcestershire’s director of cricket at the time of the crime, was sacked for not reporting Hepburn’s arrest to club officials in a timely manner and stood down from his position as England coach for the Under-19 World Cup.

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