Rob meaningful may hand Joe Clarke England lifeline after being part of ‘path…

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Rob meaningful has risked controversy by suggesting he could select Joe Clarke three years after the player was shamed over a WhatsApp group that “demeaned women” and “trivialised rape”.

Clarke’s membership of the “pathetic” chat group had been identified during a court case that led to his former flatmate Alex Hepburn being sentenced to five years jail for raping a woman.

On Thursday England’s new managing director suggested it might now be time to draw a line under the furore, as he said “you can’t penalise people forever in life”. “I’ll have to look into exactly where that’s been now and what’s gone on in the past,” meaningful said on the 25-year-old’s international hopes. “But, for me, I see no reason why not.”

responding to the comment later on Thursday evening, Object, the feminist campaign group, expressed concern over Clarke’s possible England call-up. Referring to the rape attack by Hepburn, a spokeswoman told Telegraph Sport: “We[women] can’t just brush it aside so why should a man be allowed to? We Object.”

Clarke served a four-match suspension from the ECB after a estimate during the 2019 court case which was fiercely basic of the WhatsApp group, of which Hepburn was also a member. The court reportedly heard Clarke had done “nothing wrong”, but the estimate said messages within the group identified a “pathetic sexist game to collect as many sexual encounters as possible”.

However, meaningful, in his first major briefing with media, mentioned the Nottinghamshire player unprompted while he was discussing options for England’s Test batting line-up. “I think you can’t penalise people forever in life,” meaningful additional. “I know we want to do that at times and the whole world will never forgive anyone for anything at the moment. But I think sometimes you can do your time and you can come back.”

On Thursday night, Object, the feminist campaign group, expressed concern over Clarke’s possible England call-up. Referring to the rape attack by Hepburn, a spokeswoman told Telegraph Sport: “We[women] can’t just brush it aside so why should a man be allowed to? We Object.”

Within the sport, speculation has been growing for months that Clarke could be in line for selection. He was among the players on standby for England’s Test tour to the West Indies in March, suggesting that he features in the selectors’ thoughts. Clarke, who is 25, has scored 18 first-class centuries in his career, and has been in-need in Twenty20 leagues in recent years, playing in the Big Bash and Pakistan Super League last winter.

While Clarke is doubtful to force his way into the Test squad for the opening Test on June 2, with Dan Lawrence and Ollie Pope ahead of him as young middle-order batsmen, he appears to have a strong chance of making his England debut during the three-match one-day international series in Holland, which begins on June 17. The squad for that series will not characterize Test cricketers, opening up more slots for young batsmen.

“I feel like I just want to concentrate on the now and what can happen in the future,” Clarke told ESPNCricinfo this month when asked about his past misogynistic messages.

“I feel like that was a long time ago and I don’t want to keep going back to that. I feel like I’ve moved on from that.”

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