London: South Africa’s Ashwell Prince indicated on Friday he did not feel there had been a racist element to the verbal abuse he had received from Yorkshire’s Andrew Gale.
Yorkshire captain Gale was banned for two matches after being reported by the umpires for verbally abusing Prince, playing for arch-rivals Lancashire, following a bust-up with the Proteas batsman at the end of the third day’s play in an English County Championship match earlier this month.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) then came under fire for extending that punishment to prevent Gale taking part in the formal presentation ceremony when Yorkshire clinched the County Championship trophy with their win over Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge last week.
However, that was before reports emerged that Gale had referred to Prince, a coloured South African, as a “fucking Kolpak" and that there might be a racial element to the charge facing the Yorkshire skipper.
A ‘Kolpak’ cricketer is one who was born overseas, but who qualifies to play in English domestic cricket under the laws of the European Union.
The term takes its name from Maros Kolpak, a Slovakian handball player who won a landmark case at the European Court of Justice in 2003 that upheld the right to freedom of work and movement within the EU for citizens from countries that have signed agreements with the EU.
Yorkshire have since defended Gale from any accusation of racism and Prince, while accepting he had been involved in time-wasting and that he didn’t much like Gale’s tone, appeared to absolve his opponent of racial abuse.
‘Out of control’
“I took offence to the way he spoke to me, that’s the bottom line," Prince told South African station Ballz Radio.
“The way the guy approached me and spoke to me, that’s what I took offence to. I didn’t stand there and think, ‘That may be a racial slur’.
“What happened was the guy walked towards me and had a go at me and I defended myself. If the ECB feels there’s racial connotations to it, that’s up to them to do whatever they want to do.
“It’s gone all out of control at the moment.
“People are calling me a cry baby, but at the end of the day I want to clear it up, I didn’t report this guy to the ECB, the umpires did."
As for his own conduct, the 37-year-old Prince — a veteran of 66 Tests, said: “He (Gale) has taken offence to this — it’s a ploy of time-wasting, I’ll admit it, but everyone who has ever played the game has done it, it’s nothing new.
“The experienced player I am, I was stood in the middle of the pitch tying up my thigh pad and taking as long as possible to make sure there would only be one more over.
“He’s come from backward point to silly point, walking in my direction, and hurled a whole lot of abuse at me. Those who know me and those who have played against me know I will not tolerate that type of thing. I defended myself and whatever was said, was said.
“The umpires felt whatever he said was out of order and reported him. If they felt anything I said was out of order they would have reported me as well."
Gale will still be banned for Yorkshire’s final Championship match of the season, at home to Somerset next week, although he is expected at Headingley ahead of a disciplinary hearing.