England’s new fast bowler Ollie Robinson’s eight-year-old racist and sexist tweets were completely “unacceptable” but he has shown “genuine remorse”, skipper Joe Root said while pushing for inclusivity in the country’s cricket set-up, starting from the top.
Robinson, who made an impressive Test debut with a match-haul of 7 wickets against New Zealand at Lord’s, has been suspended by the country’s apex cricket body for some of his tweets dating back to 2012-13, for which he has already tendered an unconditional public apology.
“In regards to the stuff that’s happened off the field, it’s not acceptable within our game. We all know that. He addressed the dressing room straightaway. He obviously spoke to you guys and other media outlets straight away, fronted up to it,” Root said after the drawn first Test.
“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.”
The skipper said that he was shocked and didn’t know initially how to react.
“I couldn’t believe them (the tweets), personally. 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,” he said.
Root acknowledged that this is a lesson for one and all and it starts right at the top.
“I think it’s a great lesson for everyone within our game that we can all do more.
“We all have to keep looking to educate ourselves, trying to better the environment for everyone, trying to be as inclusive as we can, keep making everyone feel comfortable to play what a wonderful sport we have.”
The England cricket team is one of the most diverse in nature and Root wants that structurally, it becomes more inclusive in its outlook.
“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.
“I think the most important thing is we keep trying to do everything we can to better our sport, that we keep learning and we keep finding ways of making our game as best as we can.”
While the issue could have been handled better, Root is unequivocal in his viewpoint that this shouldn’t have happened 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.
“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.”
After the first day’s play at Lord’s last week, Robinson had regretted posting the tweets and apologised.
“I deeply regret my actions, and I am ashamed of making such remarks. I would like to unreservedly apologise to anyone I have offended, my teammates and the game as a whole in what has been a day of action and awareness in combatting discrimination from our sport.”