Ollie Robinson suspended from England duty pending investigation into historical offensive tweets

Tweets of a racist and sexist nature from Robinson’s account surfaced this week

Vithushan Ehantharajah
Sunday 06 June 2021 21:33
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<p>Ollie Robinson during day five of England’s first Test with New Zealand</p>

Ollie Robinson during day five of England’s first Test with New Zealand

Ollie Robinson has been suspended from all international cricket pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation following historical tweets he posted in 2012 and 2013.

He will be unavailable for selection for the second Test against New Zealand, which begins at Edgbaston on Thursday 10 June, and will leave the England camp immediately.

Robinson made his debut for England in the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s which finished in a draw on Sunday. But the 27-year-old’s first day of Test cricket was overshadowed by racist and sexist Tweets that emerged from his account when he was 18 and 19.

He was informed they had resurfaced at the end of day one and, after apologising to his teammates, read out a statement that said he “deeply regrets” his actions while stating: “I want to make it clear that I’m not racist and I’m not sexist.”

Most damning of all for the England and Wales Cricket Board’s perspective was that day one started with both teams lining up alongside one another for a “Moment of Unity”, with England players wearing black T-shirts conveying messages of the discrimination they were standing against. Over the last year, they have tried to address both historic and existing accusations of discrimination, particularly around race. The decision to suspend Robinson is in accordance with that.

In a strongly worded statement released on Wednesday evening, chief executive Tom Harrison confirmed the England and Wales Cricket Board will launch a full investigation into Robinson and the tweets that date back to 2012 and 2013. Robinson will now return to his county, Sussex.

Speaking at the end of the first Test, England captain Joe Root said: “In regards to the stuff that’s happened off the field (Robinson’s tweets), it’s not acceptable within our game.

“It starts with us players at the top of the game. We set out the week with that moment of unity and we’re doing a lot of work behind the cricket that we want to make big change in the game and we want to make it more inclusive, more diverse.

“By doing that, we’re not saying that we’re perfect.  We’ve got to keep bettering ourselves as well, and hopefully by doing that it will filter through the game, it will filter through grassroots and through the county game.”

“I couldn’t believe them, personally,” said Root, when asked of his reaction when he first became aware of the Tweets. “I didn’t really know how to take it on the surface. I think the most important thing is Ollie is part of this dressing room and we had to support him. We had to try and do everything that we could to give him an opportunity to learn and understand he has to do better.”

Robinson was impressive on debut. He was the leading wicket-taker in both New Zealand innings, taking four for 75 and three for 26. He also contributed a necessary 42 that provided the bulk of the runs in a stand of 63 with centurion Rory Burns to lift England to 275, ensuring defeat was easier to avoid. He might have had a five-wicket haul on day two but a drop from Stuart Broad kept him to four first-innings wickets and off the Lord’s honours board.

Root revealed there was no discussion on pulling him out of the remainder of the match after day one. When asked if Robinson and his social media should have been vetted ahead of a call-up, he reiterated that the tweets should not have been sent in the first place.

“We can look back about how this could have been handled better, but the fact is it shouldn’t have happened. And if we continue to keep trying to better the game right now, then in years to come this shouldn’t be an issue and moving forward this shouldn’t be something that happens within cricket. We’ve got to move forward from this, learn from this and do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

It is still to be determined if the Cricket Disciplinary Commission will get involved in the investigation. He is still free to play for his county, Sussex, as the suspension relates only to his England contract.

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