Tim Lamb, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, the man who had appeared as the regretful voice of progress and reason following the MCC's failure to admit women members, is not averse, it seems, to calling female cricketers "dykes" who should only be put on the board to get more lottery money.
The same Mr Lamb, an industrial tribunal was told, had been part of a group of ECB officials who had bullied Theresa Harrild into having an abortion after she had an affair with an executive.
In the public opprobrium that followed the MCC's decision to keep their club free of women, the ECB stated this was simply a hitch on the way to equality. Mr Lamb appeared for photo opportunities with his cricketing daughter and declared: "What is important now is for people to realise that the ECB is fully committed to the role of women in cricket and is doing everything possible to encourage them to participate from school age onwards."
All that sounds rather cynical when juxtaposed with the evidence given to the tribunal which ruled that Miss Harrild had been the victim of sexual discrimination. The chairman stated: "The tribunal is unanimous in finding Miss Harrild's evidence was truthful." Yesterday Mr Lamb issued a statement denying her allegations, but admitted the organisation had not been effective in discarding stereotypes about the sport being steeped ideas of the old boy network and in the public school. His words came as another woman employee at Lord's alleged sex discrimination, "malicious" behaviour by male staff and being sent pornographic e-mail.
Mr Lamb's views on reform have been rather ambivalent. One of his first public utterances as the boss went something like: "Revolution? I'm not a fan. Revolution often leads to counter-revolution." But he did go on to say "fundamental structural changes are needed", and that more had to be done to encourage the sport at all levels, and among women.
Mr Lamb (Shrewsbury and Queen's College, Oxford), had been a mediocre player with Middlesex. He is said to have a good grasp of the nuts and bolts of the game, and of counties' problems. This does not, say cricket writers, qualify him to carry out root-and-branch reforms, especially in the field of sex discrimination.
Publicly, Mr Lamb and the ECB have maintained a policy of encouraging private clubs to allow women, and they want to amalgamate with the Women's Cricket Association. The latter has backed Lord's in the dispute with Miss Harrild but the allegations at the tribunal will not go away and do nothing to restore confidence in Mr Lamb or the cricket hierarchy. One senior MCC member, who voted for women, said: "We needed this like we needed a hole in the head."Reuse content