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Essex County Cricket Club has been accused of cultural insensitivity after securing the Bob Willis Trophy at Lord’s on Sunday.

Created after the coronavirus lockdown, the inaugural Bob Willis Trophy is a one-off, first-class cricket tournament to replace the County Championship.

In last week’s final between Somerset and Essex, former England captain Alastair Cook rewound the clock, scoring 172 in the first innings to eradicate any lingering threat of defeat in the rain-affected draw.

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The Essex players celebrated the championship in customary fashion, with wild cheers and frothing beers on the famous Lord’s balcony, where so many great teams have stood before them.

But the images of jubilation were hampered by a worrying detail. As reported by ESPNcricinfo’s George Dobell, young gun batsman Feroze Khushi was pictured grimacing and leaning away from his teammates as they showered each other in beer.

One player is seen intentionally pouring his alcoholic beverage on the 21-year-old.

Essex celebrate winning the Bob Willis Trophy.Source:Getty Images

A majority of the Islamic community prohibits alcohol, and the images quickly sparked a conversation about multicultural inclusion within English cricket.

On Monday, Essex released a statement conceding the celebrations “did not meet the inclusive values of the organisation”, but did not apologise for the incident.

“As an organisation, Essex County Cricket Club prides themselves on their work within multi-diverse communities throughout the county and the surrounding areas,” the statement said.

“For a substantial period of time, Essex have had a multi-diverse team with players from different backgrounds, religions, and races, where cricket is at the heart of these communities.

“The club has worked extremely hard and will continue to bring cricket to anybody and everybody, and educate on diversity, but further work needs to be done across both sport and society in general, to widen people’s knowledge and make them more aware of cultural differences.

“Essex County Cricket Club are in regular dialogue with the ECB and the PCA around the education and development in this area.”

Feroze Khushi of Essex County Cricket Club.Source:Getty Images

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Although the Essex statement acknowledged more could be done to incorporate minorities better, it displeased some members of the sport’s Muslim community.

“I’m not really satisfied with that,” Sajid Patel of the National Cricket League told ESPNcricinfo.

“We’ve been discussing such issues for a long time. I would have thought the answers to these issues had filtered down by now.

“I don’t think there’s any benefit in blaming one, young player. Looking at those photographs, it seems the issue is more about ignorance than malice. No doubt the young man will learn from the experience.

“But I do blame the whole system. I do blame the team manager and the senior players who didn’t foresee this problem. I do think the PCA should be doing more to educate young players in this regard.

“We’ve seen the England team manage their celebrations in such a way that the Muslim players are included. We should be better than this by now.”

During last year’s unforgettable World Cup final in London, cricketers Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid sprinting off the dias when England celebrated their historic victory against New Zealand with popped champagne.

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