Tim Ellis picks out 10 instances of non-apologies – the moments when, rightly or wrongly, ‘sorry’ really did seem to be the hardest word.
First published in 2016
10. Stan not the man
Contrition don’t come easy to your average cricket-loving Texan billionaire, and Allen Stanford is no exception. Faced with the awkward trifecta of having hosted an international sporting event universally derided as seedy and embarrassing, shelling out $20m for the privilege, and serving a 110-year sentence in a federal prison for masterminding the second-largest Ponzi scheme in history, Stanford was moved to tell the BBC from his prison cell that while he was “very, very sad” that English cricket took a pounding for the ill-fated Stanford Super Series, and that it breaks his heart, “it was not caused by Allen Stanford”.
That would be the same Allen Stanford who flew in to Lord’s on a helicopter to pose on the outfield with Giles Clarke (plus Viv and Beefy) in front of a perspex box stuffed with fake banknotes. As for his prison sentence – and the victims, thousands of whom stand no chance of recouping the money they lost in his $7bn fraud – he’s defiant. “Will I apologise? No. Mark my words… I am going to walk out the doors of this place a free man.”
9. No sweet finish for Larwood
Harold Larwood took 33 wickets in the Bodyline series but the diplomatic uproar concerning England’s tactics brought about a premature end to his career. Larwood was made a scapegoat and asked to offer an apology to the MCC by cricket philanthropist Sir Julien Cahn, a patron of Notts. Larwood refused, stating that he was merely following captain’s orders. “I’m an Englishman. I will never apologise.” Larwood became an exile, running a Blackpool sweet shop before relocating to Sydney.
8. Nass stands firm
When England’s 2003 World Cup match against hosts Zimbabwe was forfeited, Nasser Hussain could not hide his frustration. The England captain claimed that the ECB had apologised to ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed on his behalf after the two men had a frank exchange of views over death threats that English players had received. The ECB later denied such an apology had been made. “I have absolutely nothing to apologise for, at no stage did I swear or be rude,” Hussain said. “I just let them [the ICC] know that they had let us down.”
7. Cullinan’s colourful tirade
Daryll Cullinan refused to apologise to a Durban correspondent for calling him “a “f*****g racist” during a 15-minute tirade in the journalist’s hotel room in 1997. The South African batsman was livid at an article written by Iqbal Khan, telling Khan that he “lacked respect and was vindictive”. Khan said: “I was told continuously that I was a nasty piece of work and he also said the team spoke to me to blow smoke up my arse.” “I’m not apologising for what I said,” said Cullinan in an unconvincing taped riposte. “I’m apologising for my behaviour and the way I handled it.”
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6. Ranatunga throws his weight around
Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga refused to apologise for a heated exchange with umpire Ross Emerson after Muttiah Muralitharan was no-balled for chucking during an ODI against England in 1999. “I’m in charge,” Ranatunga told Emerson as he wagged his finger at the Aussie. He later tried to justify his actions by appealing to the wider cricket community. “I believe Muralitharan is a player who possesses talent which should be a source of celebration for cricket-lovers the world over.” This didn’t prevent a suspended six-match ban, a fine and a persecution complex the size of Colombo.
5. Simple Simon
In 2002, Lincolnshire’s fiery pace bowler Simon Oakes refused to apologise to Glamorgan batsman Steve James after bowling a beamer at him during a C&G Trophy match. The pair exchanged words and Oakes refused to back down, even after the match. Lincolnshire coach Mark Fell admitted: “Simon was a bit of a pillock. He wouldn’t even apologise later, so we suspended him for two games and sent a report to the ECB asking whether that was punishment enough.” The ECB agreed it was.
4. Grizzle kicks
After a bruising encounter with Sussex in 2005, Hampshire captain Shane Warne refused to apologise when Chris Adams accused him of trying to “humiliate” members of his team through overly aggressive verbal sparring. Adams took exception to comments directed at Matt Prior and said he had “lost a lot of respect” for Warne. “I am sick of being cast as the villain because English captains give one side of the story,” Warne retorted. “If Adams has lost respect for me, then I can say that whatever respect I had for him disappeared too.”
3. Jamaican me crazy
Warne’s tête-à-tête with Marlon Samuels at the 2013 Big Bash gives him a second appearance on this list. Tempers had flared when Warne of the Melbourne Stars took exception to Samuels of the Melbourne Renegades grabbing David Hussey’s shirt to hamper his running between the wickets. When it was Samuels’ turn to bat, Warne gave the Jamaican plenty of verbals before under-arming the ball at him from close range. Samuels went ballistic, chucking his bat in Warne’s direction before the umpires rushed in to calm things down. The organisers of the family-focused Big Bash responded by slapping Warne with a one-match ban and a £2,900 fine. Warne conceded he may have overstepped the mark but no apology was forthcoming and he described his punishment as “severe”.
2. Kamal gets the hump
Former ICC president Mustafa Kamal was denied the duty of presenting the trophy at last year’s World Cup after claiming that the ICC had become the “Indian Cricket Council” and questioning the impartiality of umpires. Kamal, who had previously been the chairman of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, suggested that the umpires had deliberately favoured India in Bangladesh’s World Cup quarter-final defeat. Kamal refused to withdraw his comments and resigned from his post a few days later, saying his decision was “in protest [against] those who worked unconstitutionally”. The ICC claimed that in his resignation letter Kamal had “offered his apologies to all associated with the ICC”.
1. Mankad downs Brown
Cricket’s ultimate non-apology, the force of which is still being felt today. Vinoo Mankad set the wrecking-ball rolling during India’s 1947/48 tour of Australia, breaking the wicket when Bill Brown was out of his ground at the non-striker’s end in a tour match and then cheekily repeating the trick to dismiss the same batsman in the second Test. The Aussie press were apoplectic, although it’s worth noting that captain Don Bradman couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. “For the life of me, I can’t understand why [the press] questioned his sportsmanship,” he wrote in his autobiography. Debate continues to rage, with unapologetic bowlers seeking to keep batsmen in their place and batsmen outraged at the injustice of it all.
First published in 2016