London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson on Monday said the PM is “supportive” of the culture secretary’s view that England and Wales Cricket Board should reconsider the suspension of pacer Ollie Robinson for posting racist and sexist tweets back in 2012.
Oliver Dowden, the UK government’s secretary for culture, sports, digital and media, said the ECB has gone “over the top” in its punishment of Robinson.
Fast bowler Robinson was on Sunday suspended from international cricket pending an investigation into his tweets he posted as a teenager years ago.
“Ollie Robinson’s tweets were offensive and wrong,” Mr Dowden wrote on Twitter.
“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.”
Later on Monday, Johnson’s official spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister is supportive of the comments from Oliver Dowden that he made via tweet this morning.
“As Oliver Dowden set out, these were comments made more than a decade ago (sic) written by someone as a teenager, for which they’ve rightly apologised.”
Conservative Party politician Dowden has been a Member of Parliament (MP) for Hertsmere since 2015.
The tweets resurfaced last Wednesday, the first day of Robinson’s Test debut at Lord’s, against New Zealand. In a fine debut performance at the Mecca of Cricket, he had taken seven wickets in the match.
At the close of first day’s play, the 27-year-old apologised and said he was going through a difficult period in his life when he posted the racist tweets as an 18-year-old.
“I want to make it clear that I’m not racist and I’m not sexist,” Robinson had said.
“I deeply regret my actions, and I am ashamed of making such remarks. I was thoughtless and irresponsible, and regardless of my state of mind at the time, my actions were inexcusable. Since that period, I have matured as a person and fully regret the tweets.”
However, his apology was not enough as the ECB suspended him after the end of the first Test while initiating a disciplinary investigation.
Robinson will not be available for the second Test against New Zealand, which begins at Edgbaston on Thursday.
A statement from the ECB said: “England and Sussex bowler Ollie Robinson has been suspended from all international cricket pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation following historic tweets he posted in 2012 and 2013.
“He will not be available for selection for the second Test against New Zealand starting at Edgbaston on Thursday (June 10). Robinson will leave the England camp immediately and return to his county.”
The ECB has not reacted to Dowden’s remarks. –PTI
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