Clarke was close to making his debut against India last year. © Getty
Nottinghamshire’s Joe Clarke and Yorkshire’s Tom Kohler-Cadmore are understood to have been dropped from the England Lions tour to India. The decision, made by the England and Wales Cricket Board, comes in light of details that emerged of their conduct during the trial of their former Worcestershire teammate, Alex Hepburn.
Hepburn, 23, faced two charges of rape pertaining to an incident in April 2017. But, on Friday afternoon, the judge discharged the jury after offering them a chance to reach a majority decision of 10 to two. The panel deliberated for more than nine hours following a five-day trial. The Crown Prosecution Service now has two weeks to decide whether to pursue a retrial. Hepburn has been released on bail and a provisional retrial date has been listed for April 8.
During the case, jurors heard that Hepburn, Clarke and Kohler-Cadmore were involved in a sexual contest “game”, keeping a record of the women they had slept with and rating them out of ten. The winner would earn a free night out. Hepburn broke down when the group was put to him, stating he was “completely embarrassed” at comments he had made within it. “It was nothing more than immature chat between a group of friends,” he said. “No thought went into it.”
Hepburn was accused of raping a woman shortly after she had sex with Clarke: the woman thought she was still in bed with Clarke, only to realise she was involved in a sex act with Hepburn. Both Hepburn and Clarke were arrested by police and Clarke was released without charge. Kohler-Cadmore was not present. Clarke was subsequently called as a witness during the trial.
Both Clarke (22) and Kohler-Cadmore (24) are products of the Worcestershire academy and touted for future England honours. Clarke has trained with the full Test squad and came close to making his debut in the summer of 2018 during the series against India. Kohler-Cadmore, who moved to Yorkshire in 2017, is an accomplished limited-overs opener.
As such, the decision to stand them down from the Lions programme is a setback to their international hopes given how much stock is placed in performances at that level, particularly in the subcontinent. Their axing is the first act by new director of cricket Ashley Giles who spoke on Wednesday of taking a hard line on disciplinary matters. The pair will now take a full part in pre-season at their respective counties.
The incident already saw the departure of Worcestershire’s coach at the time, Steve Rhodes, who lost his position in December 2017 when it emerged he failed to report Hepburn’s charges to the club. He was also taken off the coaching staff for England’s Under-19 squad. However, he was appointed one of Ed Smith’s domestic scouts in May of last year before moving on to take over as Bangladesh head coach in June.