English bowler Ollie Robinson suspended as old Islamophobic, sexist tweets resurface


English bowler Ollie Robinson | Twitter/@englandcricket


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New Delhi: After an impressive start to his Test cricket career, English bowler Ollie Robinson has been suspended from all international games by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) pending a disciplinary investigation into tweets he posted in 2012-2013.

“He will not be available for selection for the LV Insurance second Test against New Zealand starting at Edgbaston on Thursday 10 June. Robinson will leave the England camp immediately and return to his county,” the ECB said in a statement issued Sunday.

Robinson had just made his Test debut in the match against New Zealand at Lords, which concluded in a draw Sunday.  

The 27-year-old took four wickets for 75 runs in the first innings and three wickets for 26 runs in the second. He also scored 42 runs in the first innings.

But those efforts have been overshadowed by the nearly decade-old tweets from his teenage years, which became public during the course of the match.   

They reportedly contained derogatory comments about Asian women and are Islamophobic. In one tweet, he refers to a Muslim friend as a ‘bomb’, and in another, said the man next to him on the train had ‘Ebola’. 

Robinson has since apologised for his comments. 

“On the biggest day of my career so far, I am embarrassed by the racist and sexist tweets that I posted over eight years ago, which have today become public,” Robinson said Wednesday, the opening day of the Test match at Lords.

“I want to make it clear that I’m not racist and I’m not sexist. I deeply regret my actions, and I am ashamed of making such remarks,” he added.

After the game, England’s captain Joe Root said that while Robinson has shown remorse, the episode was a great lesson for everyone in the game.  

“He (Robinson) contributed well with the bat, his performance with the ball has been excellent, he showed high levels of skill and he’s definitely got a game that can be successful in Test cricket,” Root said.

“In regards to the stuff that happened off the field, it’s not acceptable within our game,” Root added. “He fronted up to it, showed a lot of remorse and you can see it’s very genuine from how he’s been around the group. I think it’s a great lesson for everyone within our game that we can all do more.”


Also read: Hours before the start of the historic 1971 West Indies tour, Indian team had no kit to play


Support pours in for Robinson

Support for Robinson and criticism of the English board’s decision has poured in on social media.  

England’s Culture Secretary and Sports Minister Oliver Dowden weighed in, saying the suspension was “over the top”.

“Ollie Robinson’s tweets were offensive and wrong,” Dowden tweeted. “They are also a decade old and written by a teenager. The teenager is now a man and has rightly apologised. The ECB has gone over the top by suspending him and should think again.”

 

Indian all-rounder R. Ashwin said he “genuinely felt sorry” for Robinson.  

“I can understand the negative sentiments towards what #OllieRobinson did years ago, but I do feel genuinely sorry for him being suspended after an impressive start to his test career,” Ashwin tweeted. “This suspension is a strong indication of what the future holds in this social media Gen.”

Daily Mail’s cricket correspondent Paul Newman argued that Robinson’s suspension is “incredibly harsh”. 

“Presumably this means all mistakes we all made as teenagers before we had responsibility for a professional contract counts against us all for ever more…,” he tweeted.

Commentator Harsha Bhogle called for introspection on the environment that allows individuals to make such remarks. 

“When a teenager posts abusive, sexist, racist tweets, what is the air he is breathing? I believe we need to investigate whether there is/was a climate around the game where it was deemed okay to do so,” he tweeted.  

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

 

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