During Saturday’s match between the MCC and the Rest of the World to celebrate the bicentenary of Lord's Cricket Ground, Andrew Strauss used an offensive term when referring to Kevin Pietersen.
The retired England captain called his former teammate a “c--t” when talking to fellow Sky Sports commentator Nick Knight in a commercial break.
Fox Sports in Australia were simulcasting Sky’s coverage but did not cut to commercials, so viewers heard Strauss’ faux pas loud and clear.
He then made a grovelling public apology after it was revealed his misstep had been broadcast to viewers outside the United Kingdom.
Sky moved quickly to say that Strauss will keep his commentary job despite the gaffe, and that he will be present for the first Test against India on Wednesday.
However, at the risk of agreeing with Piers Morgan on the issue, this should not be the end of it, and Strauss must be punished by his employers in some way.
Had the roles been reversed, and Pietersen were to have referred to Strauss in a derogatory way, he would have been vilified by those in the media and beyond.
The hypocrisy is staggering, as Strauss is referred to as “unlucky” to have been caught in such a way and will undoubtedly be publicly backed by Sky Sports in the coming days.
Compare this to the incident in 2012, when it was believed beyond doubt that Pietersen had sent derogatory text messages to the touring South Africans and was removed from the team. No one has ever seen those text messages first hand other than the original recipients—all we know is what they very carefully chose to leak to the media.
However, the uproar was tremendous, despite none of the allegations actually having been proven to any great extent.
There were no questions raised about the content of Pietersen’s text messages. It was assumed by many that he had tried to undermine his captain, and he was removed quickly.
The incident was cited as an example of his inability to function within a team environment, and it took several months of “reintegration” for him to be brought back into the fold.
Strauss, meanwhile, has always been regarded as an individual who commands respect as a strong leader.
After all, he took an England team to Australia for the 2010-11 Ashes series and led them to a superb 3-1 victory in what was a brilliant collective effort.
However, he is not beyond reproach, and nor should he be.
It is absolutely unacceptable to refer to another human being as a “c--t”, especially when as a commentator you are expected to be objective and not to let emotions get in the way.
It is regrettable that he was caught, and perhaps questions should be asked of his colleagues who allowed the turn of phrase to be broadcast, albeit during an ad break.
To show that there are no double standards in English cricket, Strauss should have been punished in some way, whether through suspension, a fine or in another way.
For him to come away from this episode with his reputation relatively intact would be shambolic.
After all, if Pietersen had said something similar about Strauss, imagine the public reaction.