PAUL NEWMAN: Cancel culture has made David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd an innocent victim of Azeem Rafiq’s valid and important quest for a better future for English cricket… Why have Sky allowed this to happen to one of their very best assets?

  • David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd has announced that he will be leaving Sky Sports after 22-years
  • Over the years, the Sky comment box was filled with the cricket legend.
  • After joining the club in 1999, ‘Bumble” covered England’s Test matches and one-day matches.
  • After Azeem Rafiq had accused him of racist comments, he also apologized. 

This one doesn’t require the combined talent of Hercule Poirot or Inspector Morse. One of the very best sporting commentators and one of the great men of cricket has been ‘cancelled’ by Sky because he was dragged into the Azeem Rafiq affair.

There might have been no mention of the Yorkshire racism scandal in Sky’s statement on Bumble’s ‘retirement’ from their commentary box, but the evidence is clear enough.

Bumble’s private Twitter exchange, which he enjoys because he loves cricket so much (and that is why he has a Twitter account), ended a 22 year stint as England coach that made him a national treasure.

David 'Bumble' Lloyd announced on Tuesday he will be leaving Sky Sports' broadcast team

David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd made Tuesday’s announcement that he was leaving Sky Sports’ broadcasting team

Lloyd's exit comes months after he apologised for alleged racist abuse to Azeem Rafiq (above)

Lloyd’s resignation comes months following his apology for racist remarks to Azeem Rasiq (above).

Lloyd refused to say any more than Tuesday’s statement. But how could we make any conclusion? Not after Bumble’s name was unexpectedly brought up by Rafiq in the parliamentary hearing into claims of institutionalised racism at Headingley.

His comments during a lengthy, private discussion with a podcaster about cricket were not taken out of context or made public.

Bumble never hinted that he was heading towards the end of Sky’s life. His drive and enthusiasm have been the same as before.

Cancel culture has made Bumble an innocent victim of Rafiq’s valid and important quest for a better future for English cricket. Bumble’s 50+ years of playing the game with no blemishes on his records seem insignificant.

Lloyd is a popular member of the English cricket community both on and away from the pitch

Lloyd is well-known in the English cricket community on and off the pitch.

This is a shameful treatment for Lloyd, and it will also be unfair to the millions of cricket lovers who won’t have the opportunity to hear him play his crucial role with Mike Atherton, Nasser Hussain and other members of the greatest broadcasting team of any sport, not just cricket.

For goodness sake, Bumble is at his best at age 74. Sky still has so many more things to offer. Bumble has played as a good player at Test, England, and was an innovative coach in Lancashire.

Rafiq didn’t want it either. Lloyd called Rafiq on the morning of the storm and apologized for his offenses. Lloyd accepted his apology, and the two moved on.

Lloyd (middle) admitted he felt the commentary box was emptier without some ex-colleagues

Lloyd (middle), admitted that he didn’t feel the commentary box would be as full without ex-colleagues

The struggle hasn’t ended. Rafiq was informed by sources close to him SportsmailAs soon as he got the news, Bumble sent him a message saying that he was sorry and that the departure did not affect him. Bumble also expressed his hope that the two of them could continue to work together to improve cricket.

Rafiq doesn’t want Sky to make Bumble a scapegoat, but who would? Why have Sky allowed this to happen to one of their best assets and why haven’t they supported Bumble when he needed it most? They are afraid of what? 

Social media idiots take offense at even the smallest indiscretion. Why couldn’t someone high up at Sky look at what was said and realise: ‘This is wrong. Our man hasn’t got a racist bone in his body. Let’s back him.’

Bumble’s kindness yesterday was made possible by the outpouring of love on Twitter. He will not be remembered for this episode and it is not his legacy. Lloyd is loved by everyone in cricket. Lloyd is too significant, has done so much for the game.

Former England player and coach Lloyd (middle) has done a great deal for the English game

Lloyd (middle), a former England player, has been a tremendous coach for the English team.

Good news: It won’t stop here. That word retirement may have been used in Bumble’s statement but he is not retiring. Not at all. The key line was at the very end of his statement yesterday when he said ‘in the words of Elton John, I’m still standing’.

He will still be standing as a huge part of Sportsmail’s cricket coverage, both with his humour in his daily Test diaries and his insight as a man who has played and coached at the highest level. But that’s only for starters.

Bumble cut his broadcasting teeth with the BBC’s Test Match Special while he was still coaching, learning his trade with some of the best there have been including John Arlott, Brian Johnston, Christopher Martin-Jenkins and his hero Fred Trueman.

His first love was radio, and it wouldn’t surprise him if he returned to this medium to share his passion for the hobby and his knowledge.

David Lloyd, who is a great cricketer, will then be able to continue his work, hopefully for quite some time. The whole game of cricket will benefit.