Essex captain Tom Westley has issued an apology on behalf of his team following an incident at Lord's which saw alcohol poured over a young Muslim player.
Essex lifted the Bob Willis Trophy on Sunday, triggering scenes of jubilation on the balcony of their dressing room at Lord's. Amid the photographs of those moments, Feroze Khushi, a 21-year-old batsman who played four games in the group stage of the tournament, is seen grimacing as beer is poured over his head by another young player on the staff. ESPNcricinfo has chosen not to name that player or show photographs which might be deemed incriminating.
While Essex released a statement on Monday admitting the celebrations "did not meet the inclusive values" of the club, they stopped short of offering an apology. Westley, at the end of his first season as captain, has now corrected that and admitted the squad are "disappointed" they let the incident happen and determined to "be more responsible" in future.
"On behalf of myself and the team, we would like to apologise for any offence that was caused during our celebrations at Lord's on Sunday," Westley said. "At Essex, we believe we have built a strong dressing-room culture that supports one another both on and off the field.
"As a group, we have come together today and discussed the event and on reflection, we are disappointed that we let this happen.
"Moving forward, the squad will be more responsible and aware of our actions and will continue to learn and develop with the help of the ECB and the PCA."
The incident occurred at a time of great sensitivity towards such issues in the game across the country. Revelations from the likes of Michael Carberry, Azeem Rafiq, Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent have increased awareness over the struggles of players from BAME communities in the English game and led to an acceptance that the sport has a long way to go in its journey towards full and equal inclusivity.
While most observers, including those from the National Asian Cricket and the National Cricket League, agreed the incident at Lord's was grounded more in ignorance than malice, it will have done nothing to convince those from Muslim communities that the sport is welcoming towards them.
Essex's record in such areas is better than most. No county squad contains more players from a BAME background and the speed with which they produced a statement on Monday compared favourably with Yorkshire's reluctance to comment following Rafiq's allegations. Westley's additional comments underline the impression the club are determined to use the incident as a learning experience in their bid to increase their commitment towards inclusivity.