Senior New Zealand cricketer Scott Styris is facing possible censure after sending an expletive-laced late-night text to a former team-mate, Herald on Sunday columnist Mark Richardson.
Styris aimed a tirade at the former New Zealand opener after what he perceived to be a negative article. Styris then followed the first with another on a similar theme.
The first one sarcastically thanked Richardson for the article before describing him as a "geriatric ****-head". It is then understood to have added: "We hope you die choking on your own **** that you speak."
Styris then used more expletives in a later text and abused Richardson again as a "scribe/ hack/ journo/ wannabe journo".
Richardson would not comment on the texts and said he had been keen they were not made public.
He said Styris might receive more criticism than was warranted and such issues were better dealt with behind closed doors.
Styris, speaking yesterday from Heathrow Airport before boarding a plane back to New Zealand, acknowledged that the language used in the texts was unacceptable.
"When I read Mark's article I was pretty fired up about it and flicked him a text message," Styris said.
"I have since apologised to him for the tone of the text messages. "The words I used in them were pretty volatile but I have apologised to him."
Styris considers the texts were an emotional serve delivered to a former team-mate and colleague rather than an attack on Richardson's right to have an opinion as a member of the working media.
Richardson received the texts in the middle of the night and later forwarded an informal complaint to New Zealand Cricket's chief executive, Justin Vaughan, who is attending the International Cricket Council board meeting in Dubai and was not available for comment, and also spoke to Players' Association manager Heath Mills.
"While the language used in the messages were unacceptable to say the least, and we in no way condone that, Scott has apologised for the language he used and the matter should go no further," Mills said.
However, it is unlikely that Styris will escape censure of some kind, especially with the texts now made public.
Styris sent the texts after an article quoted Richardson's opinions on the fourth one-day international in England when Grant Elliott was controversially run out after colliding with Ryan Sidebottom.
The umpires gave England captain Paul Collingwood the opportunity to withdraw the appeal but he did not, an act which incensed the New Zealanders.
Richardson sympathised with Collingwood and said he did the right thing throwing it over to the umpires.
He also said that New Zealand had to be careful about casting stones in the wake of their decision to run Muttiah Muralitharan out in a test match in 2006 after he left his crease while the ball was still "live" to congratulate his team-mate Kumar Sangakkara, who made a century.
"We were happy to take that decision," Richardson was quoted as saying. The Black Caps felt Richardson had overlooked the umpire's call to Collingwood to reconsider, provoking Styris' furious response.
Sources close to the protagonists told the Herald on Sunday they have never enjoyed a bosom-buddy relationship, even while team-mates in the Black Caps and there was often banter between the two.
It is also known the New Zealand team feel Richardson's criticism more keenly than others because he was a recent team-mate of many of them, including captain Daniel Vettori and vice-captain Brendon McCullum, and played under coach John Bracewell.By Paul Lewis Email Paul, Dylan Cleaver Email Dylan