Big Bash League: English star Joe Clarke offered lifeline at Perth Scorchers despite sordid sex incident

A character reference from Simon Katich has helped Englishman Joe Clarke find a passage to the Perth Scorchers, despite an acknowledged incident of sexist and misogynistic behaviour.

Aussie cricketer Alex Hepburn was sentenced to five years in a UK jail in 2019 for raping a sleeping woman as part of a sordid whatsapp sexual conquest game, which also involved Clarke as part of the chat group.

Clarke was never accused of criminal wrongdoing, but was charged by the England Cricket Board for bringing the game into disrepute over the grubby whatsapp messages he sent as part of a game where the men involved competed for who could have sex with as many new partners as possible.

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Alex Hepburn is led out of court after being jailed for rape.Source:AAP


WACA chief executive Christina Matthews condemned Clarke’s behaviour from back in 2017 as “completely unacceptable” but said she had been convinced the now 24-year-old had demonstrated genuine efforts to try and improve himself as a person.

Test great Katich was due to coach Clarke last year at The Hundred competition and the fact a person of his integrity in the game was willing to vouch for Clarke’s character, as well as other positive references from respected people known to WA cricket, has paved the way for Clarke to come to the Big Bash this summer.

The Scorchers are happy to have Clarke on board but he still has some awkward moments awaiting him, with Matthews to discuss the confronting issue with the talented batsman in a bid to try and educate him further on attitudes towards women.

“Absolutely, the behaviour that occurred three or four years ago was completely unacceptable, whether charged with an offence or not,” Matthews told News Corp.

“The challenge everyone has with things like that is, how long do you punish someone?

“It is not an understatement to say that the high performance manager came to me as soon as his name was raised and said, ‘this is the person, this is the background’, and we then went about some due diligence to get some first-hand references about what he is like now and the growth of him as an individual.

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“Matt Mason, our bowling coach, who while he’s a Western Australian, lived and worked in England for 10 or so years and so knew Joe. And Simon Katich is his current coach. So having got some reassurance from both of those, I was happy for him to be signed.

“And in fact, (I) said it might be something we can assist with his education in coming here and giving him even more of a chance to grow into a good person.

“These sort of things hit you in the face when your CEO is a female as well and you have to talk about those sort of things with a woman instead of a man. (We have a) different environment, a different way of talking about things … I think it’s just our general culture, about how we expect people to behave.”

Clarke was forced to appear at Hepburn’s court trial, having had consensual sex with the victim earlier on the night in question, before leaving the room and passing out in a bathroom, when Hepburn committed the sexual assault.

“If I could take back everything that happened, in terms of the whole situation for all the parties involved, then I would,” Clarke told ESPN Cricinfo earlier this year.

“It runs through my mind every day.”

Aussie star James Faulkner knocks over Joe Clarke in a T20 Blast match back in 2018.Source:Getty Images

Matthews said human beings, particularly young people, deserved second chances.

“Certainly there is an intent to talk to him before he gets here. Particularly to make him aware it’s a live issue here and to not be surprised by an interrogation,” said Matthews.

“We all have phases we go through as we’re growing up, and depending on the environment you grow up in, your behaviour may be more extreme than others, but it’s about allowing people to grow.”

Originally published asBBL lifeline for English star in Whatsapp sex scandal

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