Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

England debutant Robinson banned for old racial tweets

- HT Correspond­ent

England all-rounder Ollie Robinson has been suspended from internatio­nal cricket pending the outcome of a disciplina­ry investigat­ion by ECB after racially insensitiv­e and sexist tweets he posted as a teenager surfaced while on debut in the drawn first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s. Robinson won’t be selected for the second Test starting on Thursday and has been asked to return to his county, Sussex.

The tweets, posted in 2012 and 2013 when Robinson wasn’t a profession­al cricketer, emerged on Day 1 of the Test. England had lined up with New Zealand players in a “moment of unity” wearing T-shirts denouncing all forms of discrimina­tion before play began. Robinson apologised that day, but it was reported that an embarrasse­d ECB had already decided to make an example of him. The action, thus, was on expected lines though Robinson finished the Test with seven wickets and a doughty 42 in the first innings. “It’s not acceptable within our game,” England skipper Joe Root said. “We all know that. He addressed the dressing room straightaw­ay… He showed a lot of remorse from that point onwards. You can see it’s very genuine from how he’s been around the group and the team.”

While Robinson’s social media posts are unpardonab­le, suspending him seems a kneejerk

Aresponse by ECB. From Eric Cantona to as recently as Ben Stokes, England’s top athletes have often been found guilty of irresponsi­ble, shameful behaviour. Setting up a grassroots level programme that helps budding athletes learn how to carry themselves in public and on social media could prove a much more effective tool than the current top-down approach.

It’s also clear there was no background check done on Robinson before he was included in the national setup. It wasn’t as if Robinson, son of former England assistant coach Paul Farbrace’s current wife Sandra, hadn’t raised any red flags. In July 2014, Yorkshire terminated his county contract because of “a number of unprofessi­onal actions”. His rise was not overnight, so it should have given

ECB time for a thorough check and corrective measures. He could have been made to face a gender and racial sensitisat­ion programme. Only the day before the Test, England pacer Craig Overton apologised for alleged racist behaviour towards Ashar Zaidi, Sussex all-rounder, in an interview with Wisden.

The British government backed Robinson. Secretary of state for digital, culture media and sport (DCMS), Oliver Dowden, said ECB had “gone over the top”, a stand endorsed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “Ollie Robinson’s tweets were offensive and wrong. 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,” tweeted Dowden.

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