Nottinghamshire batter and England hopeful Joe Clarke reveals his ’embarrassment and shame’ at his past involvement in a tasteless WhatsApp group with former team-mate and rapist Alex Hepburn
- Joe Clarke has opened up on his past involvement in a vulgar WhatsApp group
- The group engaged in discussions about a degrading game of sexual conquests
- His ex-Worcestershire team-mate, convicted rapist Alex Hepburn, was involved
- Nottinghamshire batter Clarke could potentially be in line for an England call-up
- Many have questioned his suitability for a call-up given his past sexist actions
- But in an interview Clarke, 25, confronted his behaviour and spoke of his regret
Joe Clarke has admitted his ’embarrassment and shame’ at being involved in the unseemly WhatsApp group game that led to a former team-mate being convicted of rape.
Opening up on the episode for the first time, Clarke, 26 on Thursday, said he felt like he had let the victim down.
As recently as the start of this season, the Nottinghamshire batsman insisted he wanted to let his cricket do the talking but a social media storm triggered by speculation over his potential selection for England appears to have triggered a re-think.
Nottinghamshire batter Joe Clarke (pictured left) has spoken of his ’embarrassment and shame’ over past involvement in a vulgar WhatsApp group with convicted rapist Alex Hepburn
‘It is embarrassment and shame that I was involved in what was a terrible thing,’ he said.
‘It does not reflect the person I am now. Those messages were when I was 19, and I am not that person now.
‘It is not nice to see [the backlash] but I completely understand where people are coming from. If I was not involved myself and it was someone else, I would feel the same way.’
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he revealed he no longer had contact with Alex Hepburn, who has since been released from prison.
Hepburn (pictured), at that time a Worcestershire team-mate of Clarke, was sentenced to five years in jail after raping a woman who had earlier engaged in consensual sex with Clarke
The victim consented to sex with Clarke, before he was sick and passed out in the bathroom, but not his then Worcestershire team-mate Hepburn.
‘I feel like I let her down. She was ultimately in my company and relied on me for her safety and I did not provide that,’ he said.
Clarke was banned for four matches by the ECB, and sent on sexual consent courses, after Hepburn was handed a five-year custodial sentence.
‘It was reminders about how we should behave towards women,’ the Nottinghamshire player said.
He, Hepburn and Tom Kohler-Cadmore, now at Yorkshire, were involved in misogynistic text conversations in which the winner of a sexual conquest contest was to be treated to a free meal and drinks by the other two.
Recent talk of an England call-up was met with criticism from those who feel his past sexist actions make him an unsuitable candidate for the national side – and Clarke spoke of his regret