A two-match ban handed to Somerset and England Lions seamer Craig Overton over alleged racially offensive language has been questioned by Kick It Out and by Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie.
Overton was found guilty of a level-one breach - the lowest of four England and Wales Cricket Board directives - for allegedly telling Sussex's Pakistan-born spinner Ashar Zaidi to "go back to your own f***ing country" in an LV= County Championship match in September. Overton denied saying the words.
Kick It Out chairman Lord Herman Ouseley believes the punishment handed down by the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) - an independent arm of the ECB - "does not fit the offence" and called on cricket to send out a clear message that such actions will not be tolerated.
He told the Guardian: "My personal view would be that it seems quite outrageous; that the punishment does not fit the offence and that clearly at least a category three sanction should have been applied in this instance.
"It's not only serious abuse and misconduct, it is clearly racially offensive.
"I would expect that if it was in football, that person would be getting a very heavy sanction. If cricket wants to maintain a reputation of credibility it should nip something like this in the bud and make it clear that it is not going to tolerate it.
"If a decision seems quite outrageously wrong, then the ECB could appeal and that goes to another panel. In appealing, and voicing its displeasure at the verdict, it can send the message that there should be zero tolerance of such discriminatory conduct."
An ECB spokesman earlier told Press Association Sport that it remains content with the CDC's handling of the case, and Overton was subsequently selected for this winter's England Performance Programme.
Overton's availability for that squad - a group of young players identified as having potential to play for England - did not affect the CDC's decision, according to the ECB.
"The Cricket Discipline Commission is an independent body which operates at arm's length from the ECB," the ECB spokesman said.
"Craig Overton's selection for the EPP squad would have played no part whatsoever in the CDC's ruling in this matter. The ECB refutes any suggestion of interference or bias in the proper disciplinary process."
Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale was suspended for four games and prevented from lifting the County Championship trophy in 2014 after calling Lancashire's South African batsman Ashwell Prince a "Kolpak f*****". Gale was initially reported for a level-two offence and an ECB complaint to the CDC saw his ban extended from an initial two matches.
Gillespie posted a link to the Guardian's initial story about Overton on Twitter on Thursday night with the words: "There is a strong chance that @YorkshireCCC will be seeking clarification on this..............."
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