England cricket chiefs on Tuesday rallied round star all-rounder Ben Stokes after he criticized a British newspaper report about a family tragedy more than 30 years ago.
Tom Harrison, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said he was “disgusted and appalled” by the front-page story in ‘The Sun’ tabloid on Tuesday.
Ben Stokes, who helped England win the World Cup this year and played a starring role in the just-completed drawn Ashes series against Australia, has called the report “utterly disgusting” and said it touched on “deeply personal and traumatic events” involving the deaths of members of his New Zealand-based family more than 30 years ago.
Stokes, 28, was born in New Zealand but moved to England as a boy.
In an ECB statement, Harrison said: “We, like the wider sporting world, are disgusted and appalled at the actions taken in revealing the tragic events from Ben’s past.
In his own statement, Ben Stokes said: “It is hard to find words that adequately describe such low and despicable behavior, disguised as journalism. I cannot conceive of anything more immoral, heartless or contemptuous to the feelings and circumstances of my family.”
— Ben Stokes (@benstokes38) September 17, 2019
“For more than three decades, my family has worked hard to deal with the private trauma inevitably associated with these events and has taken great care to keep private what were deeply personal and traumatic events.”
The cricketer’s post has been retweeted by thousands of his fans and teammates, including by his Test captain Joe Root, who urged his followers to “please take the time to read this and respect it.”
The Sun defended its approach, saying the story had received extensive media coverage in New Zealand at the time.
Ben Stokes has been widely lauded for his starring performance in England’s World Cup win against New Zealand at Lord’s in July, and his blistering unbeaten 135 in the third Ashes Test at Headingly, an innings that steered England to square the series with a one-wicket win.