That’s just not cricket!

No apology: Bill Beckett
No apology: Bill Beckett
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ONE of South Yorkshire’s most senior cricket officials has quit his post after an email in which he abused one of his league’s players was made public.

Bill Beckett resigned as joint-chairman of the South Yorkshire Alliance League following a message in which he branded Adwick-on-Dearne CC stalwart Simon Askew “a moron”.

Beckett had intended his comments to be seen only by fellow members of the League’s management committee.

However, he mistakenly forwarded the communication to other Adwick players and officials.

The controversy came after the club tried to rearrange a fixture that was rained off earlier in the season, which is the first campaign for the 45-team Alliance, following amalgamation of the Sheffield League and Doncaster League.

Askew initially emailed League joint-chairman Maurice Gilliatt about the match against Handsworth CC. The query was referred to league secretary John Turner and fixture secretary Kevin Gresham. Turner replied that rearranging rained-off fixtures was not permitted under Alliance League rules, prompting a further question from Adwick CC vice-chairman Askew who acknowledged he did not have a copy of current regulations but pointed out such provision existed under the (old) Doncaster League.

On receiving a copy of the email from Turner, Beckett replied: “What a moron! He should be hauled over the coals and told to attend a disciplinary committee or the full management committee for wasting our time. Unbelievable!”

Beckett’s response was accidentally copied to Adwick CC first-team captain Aidan Shaw, who said he was appalled.

He replied: “That a member of the league committee would refer to him [Askew] as a moron, in an email copied to one of his club colleagues, is ridiculous.

“The email was a personal insult and wholly inappropriate. I understand your frustration with some of the questions you must receive.

“However, answering queries from member clubs is one of the administration tasks associated with being a committee member for any organisation.”

Adwick CC chairman Steve Batty submitted a written request to the Alliance for an apology, to both player and club, from Beckett.

Batty added: “Referring to my friend and colleague as a ‘moron’ is unacceptable, unprofessional and downright derogatory.

“Mr Beckett was voted in to his respected role, to represent and govern member clubs. We are a member club and respect should be a two-way street.”

In a reply to Batty, Beckett said: “The use of the term ‘moron’ seems to have caused quite a stir amongst members of your club.

“Personally, I feel totally justified in how I expressed my opinion and can only add I would normally have prefixed it with a profanity to emphasise my disgust even further.

“Having been chairman of the Sheffield Cricket League for the last 15 years, my intolerance to such matters and my style of leadership is recognised accordingly.

“But it would appear people east of the M1 corridor are more sensitive and prefer a more sympathetic style.

“I have absolutely no intention of apologising to your club or to Simon Askew; on the contrary, your club should be apologising unreservedly to the league.”

Beckett promptly resigned and added that he would not be apologising.

His resignation notice will be considered by the League’s Management Committee, some of whom have tried to persuade him to stay given his long-standing involvement in local cricket.

“The rained-off match was on May 5 but the request (on behalf of Adwick) to rearrange the game came two months later in July, so the person had two months to check the league’s rule book and had he done so in that time he would have seen there is no rule allowing rearrangement,” added Beckett.

“What’s more, he talked being able to rearrange games in the (old) Doncaster League but the rule referring to that said it had to be done in 7 to 10 days so two months is well outside that deadline.

“I’m sticking by my guns and I want to see if Adwick are brought before the committee, not just because of Simon Askew’s faux pas, but also because they should be asking if the management committee was being undermined by the ridiculous attempt to have the game replayed.”

Askew, who has played for Adwick CC for almost 20 years, said: “I didn’t have a copy of the league rules to hand, so was merely asking a question. I didn’t expect an abusive reply. I was only trying to get my club to play more cricket.”

Beckett was responsible for compiling the new organisation’s rules, upon merger of the two leagues.

- Apologies for the incorrect byline in today’s Star.