The England batsman Rory Burns has earned a private rebuke following an unedifying online spat with women’s cricketer Alex Hartley in the aftermath of the Test team’s harrowing two-day defeat to India.
Burns, who was dropped for the 10-wicket loss in Ahmedabad, took umbrage with international spinner Hartley after she jokingly tweeted “Nice of the England boys to get this test match finished just before England Women play tonight” followed by four clapping emojis.
In a subsequently deleted tweet, which was liked by teammates Jimmy Anderson and Ben Stokes at the time, Burns replied: “Very disappointing attitude considering all the ‘boys’ do to support the Women’s game.”
It prompted Hartley, who is not part of the England team that is currently in New Zealand, to insist: “Think it’s been taken the wrong way/out of context. No offence was meant. We are all test match fans.”
This did not prevent something of a pile-on from others, however, including criticism from Nottinghamshire’s Ben Duckett and Samit Patel, as well as Durham’s Chris Rushworth.
Burns holds a Test central contract, while Hartley, currently summarising for BT Sport’s coverage of the women’s tour, has a regional deal at Lancashire. Both are understood to have been spoken to since by Ashley Giles and Clare Connor, the respective directors of cricket for the men’s and women’s game.
Chris Silverwood, the men’s national team head coach, said the issue was being “dealt with back in England”, with an ECB spokesperson later telling the Guardian: “We recognise the influence high profile people have on social media, and have reminded Rory of his responsibilities.”
The exchange prompted a strong reaction online. Some supporters pointed to a poor choice of words from Hartley towards a fellow professional after a defeat – and questioned how it would have been received if the roles were reversed – while others pointed to the disparity in wages and profile for the two teams.
Speaking after England women claimed a seven-wicket win over New Zealand in Dunedin to seal their ODI series with a game to spare, all-rounder Nat Sciver said: “I didn’t see the tweet but I did hear about it from some of the girls.
“Maybe it wasn’t the best timing – if we had lost a Test match in two days I would have been pretty mad – but that’s Twitter for you.”