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Put the smartphone down Aggers old chap. This spat really isn’t cricket | Barney Ronay | Sport | The Guardian



Oh, cease it Aggers. The information that Jonathan Agnew MBE, the BBC’s voice of cricket, has been reprimanded by the company for repeatedly calling a journalist at the Unbiased “a cunt” would possibly come as a little bit of shock to those that observe Agnew’s sunny broadcast presence.

Everybody loves a high-profile tiff. However this isn’t really a tiff, only a unhealthy judgment name on one aspect. Agnew has since apologised to Jonathan Liew after the abusive direct messages got here to gentle.

I ought to declare an curiosity right here. I do know and like Liew, and really feel dismayed on his behalf that he ought to obtain a sustained and menacing screed of abuse from a senior determine in his trade. I additionally perceive why Agnew was upset, as he believed that Liew was calling him a racist.

The abusive messages have been a response to an article Liew had written during which he expressed concern about a few of the language utilized in the media to explain Jofra Archer’s choice for England. Liew was writing about the notion of structural prejudice in the method we categorical ourselves, a shifting, gossamer factor that may usually creep in unexpectedly however which may reinforce unhelpful tropes and stereotypes.

This was the passage in the direction of the finish that led to the BBC cricket correspondent’s foul-mouthed tirade, to not point out some disagreeable accompanying allusions to psychological well being issues.

Liew wrote: “‘A huge call,’ warned Jonathan Agnew. ‘Morale and camaraderie is a big part in team performance.’ Which feels instinctively unarguable – who doesn’t love morale and camaraderie, after all? – until you begin to ask why Archer is deemed such a grave threat to it.”

There was a comparability with Agnew’s hotter welcome for Gary Ballance, a white participant of Zimbabwean origin. Additional down, and summing up numerous parts above, Liew wrote: “There’s an incendiary word you could posit to describe all this, but I’m not going to use it.”

This was the first response from Agnew: “Fucking disgraceful. You have massive chips on your shoulder … you are a racist.”

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Liew replied that this was not about title calling however a wider societal subject to do with “the huge privilege we enjoy in the media, the subtle and often unconscious biases that occasionally seep into our language … Happy to engage further on this topic if you are prepared to put your pantomime outrage to one side. If not apologies for the offence caused and I wish you well.”

What got here subsequent was an unanswered blurt of abusive fury.

Agnew: “You really have issues”

Agnew: “Apologise now”.

Agnew: “I’m going no further on the advice of people who know you and think you are a cunt. I know you are. Think on.”

Agnew: “CUNT”

Agnew: “You are so strange I don’t know if you’d be upset to know those who think you are a cunt”

Agnew: “If you happen to assume so in hindsight then you may have an opportunity. If you happen to don’t

Agnew: “I’m SO angry”

Agnew: “Book yourself in somewhere”

Agnew: “You need help”

Agnew: “Who the fuck are you?”

At the finish of which, we most likely all need assistance. What’s occurring right here precisely? I ought to level out that Liew is a waspish however well-liked journalist. The notes of the Cricket Writers’ Membership assembly the place Agnew raised his grievances in a written assertion report the room bursting into laughter when Liew, who was late, walked in midway by means of.

The different curiosity to declare right here is that Agnew has finished one thing comparable however far much less critical and bullying with me. Those that know him say Agnew is a really good man, that he can simply be thin-skinned. This might be proper. In my case Agnew was angered by an article during which I mentioned I most popular TalkSport’s protection and the Agnew-style voice might be a bar to cricket for some who discovered him barely bumptious and Center England.

In response he despatched me a weirdly private indignant message. Later there was a wierd e mail late at night time referring to a listener interplay, and telling me “people like you” don’t realise how cherished he’s, how good he’s, what a phenomenal particular person. In the course of which he took time to very lovably name me “a wanker”. Which is, you need to admit, fairly humorous.

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At the time I urged he ought to cease doing this sort of factor because it’s only a unhealthy concept. He has an ideal proper to take subject with folks. I’m glad he cares sufficient. He’ll maybe name me a cunt for scripting this, and I defend his proper to take action. Possibly he’s proper!

I don’t assume Jonathan Agnew is a racist. I don’t assume Liew ever urged he was one however learn the messages to Liew and one thing else emerges. Not simply the sense of a sample of disagreeable behaviour however one thing wider too. Abusing youthful journalists from a place of energy is a harmful factor to do. Much more uncomfortable is the spectacle of considered one of English cricket’s most influential media figures abusing a younger English journalist of Chinese language heritage who has introduced up a difficulty of race, who’s making an attempt to speak about nuance and about the method we use language.

Agnew can disagree with this or take it on board. He would possibly say, I’m indignant about this, clarify your self. But when the response is simply: you’re a cunt, then he’s clearly not getting this proper.

Agnew has now resigned from the Cricket Writers’ Membership; fairly rightly given his abuse of one other member. And even when Danny Baker acquired the boot this week for one thing far much less intentionally vitriolic, the BBC has most likely finished the proper factor in reprimanding him.

In the finish this can be a very minor bump in the highway at the begin of cricket’s huge summer season, one thing Agnew will probably be at the coronary heart of. Maybe as the sport tries to unfold its wings slightly it’s a good second to consider voices, about how we speak to others, and who we need to see doing that. This is one thing to be taught from. And in the meantime, do put the sweary smartphone down my pricey old factor.

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