Ollie Robinson: Call for cricket board to rethink 'over the top' suspension over old racist and sexist tweets

·3-min read

The suspension handed to England cricketer Ollie Robinson while he is investigated over historical racist and sexist tweets is "over the top", Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has suspended the bowler from all international cricket pending the outcome of the disciplinary investigation into offensive posts he sent in 2012 and 2013 as a teenager.

He will not be available for selection for the second Test against New Zealand starting at Edgbaston on Thursday.

In a post on social media on Monday, Mr Dowden said: "Ollie Robinson's tweets were offensive and wrong.

"They are also a decade old and written by a teenager.

"That teenager is now a man and has rightly apologised.

"The English and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has gone over the top by suspending him and should think again."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson agrees with Mr Dowden's comments, Downing Street added.

A Number 10 spokesperson said: "As Oliver Dowden set out, these were comments made more than a decade ago, written by someone as a teenager and for which they have rightly apologised."

But shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens said Mr Dowden should not be criticising the ECB for taking action "that they think is necessary and appropriate to tackle racism and other forms of discrimination in their sport".

The fast bowler said he was "embarrassed" and "ashamed" as he apologised "unreservedly" for the social media messages he sent when he was in his late teens, which were unearthed last Wednesday as he made his Test debut.

Robinson, now aged 27, was the pick of England's bowlers against New Zealand as he took seven wickets in the drawn first match of the two-Test series, while he also scored 42 runs at Lord's.

Prior to the opening day's play of the first Test of the English summer, England and New Zealand shared a "moment of unity" - with the hosts wearing T-shirts designed as a stand against discrimination of all kinds.

Speaking about Robinson after England held on to draw the first Test, captain Joe Root said: "From a performance point of view, on the field, he's had an exceptional debut.

"With regards to the stuff that has happened off the field, it's not acceptable within our game - we all know that.

"He has dealt with a huge array of emotions over this last week and he has got to learn some hard lessons.

"He addressed the dressing room, and media outlets, straight away, he fronted up to it. He showed a lot of remorse from that point onwards."

Root added: "For us as a sport, we've got to keep looking to be better, educate and learn as much as we can and make the game as inclusive and diverse as possible. This team is committed to doing that and hopefully over time we can make a real difference.

"We've got to move forward from this, we've got to learn from it and do everything we can to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Robinson has a separate employment contract with Sussex so he is free to play, if selected, for the county during his international suspension.

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