ngland coach Chris Silverwood described Ollie Robinson as “devastated, embarrassed and very remorseful” as he was suspended, pending an investigation, following the emergence during his Test debut of racist and sexist tweets posted nine years ago.
The tweets emerged on Wednesday, the day Robinson was handed his Test cap at Lord’s and England lined up in a “moment of unity” to fight seven different forms of discrimination.
He apologised privately to his team-mates and publicly and completed the drawn match, taking seven wickets and scoring 42, but will miss Thursday’s Second Test at Edgbaston as the ECB conduct an investigation. His suspension is in line with other players, such as Ben Stokes, who have seen off-field behaviour investigated.
Robinson has returned to his county, Sussex, where he is free to play, with England calling up Yorkshire spinner Dom Bess in his place.
Robinson received unprompted support from Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who tweeted: “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.”
The ECB’s investigation will seek to ascertain Robinson’s cricketing status at the time and whether they breach the conditions of his employment. The tweets were written in 2012 and 2013, when he spent time with Kent and Yorkshire before breaking through with Sussex.
Silverwood informed Robinson on Wednesday that, while he was on the field (with no access to his mobile phone for anti-corruption reasons) he was at the centre of an online storm. He said he was “devastated, embarrassed and very remorseful”, and that “he had to face up to this”.
“It was very disappointing,” said Silverwood. “What should have been one of the greatest days of Ollie’s career didn’t end well for him.
“It was disappointing for the group. It was a stark reminder for us all of the responsibilities that we hold in the position that we are in. There is absolutely no place in this game for any form of discrimination whatsoever. He showed a lot of remorse, he apologised publicly, he apologised to the dressing room. It’s been a really big learning [curve] for him. The big thing for us all is education.
“We are all striving to be better and we all need to make sure we are learning all the time.
“We can work hard to ensure that this great game is inclusive for everybody and there’s no form of discrimination whatsoever.”
Bess had a tough series in India earlier this year, where he was dropped and recalled. He has had a mixed start to his time at Yorkshire but did take four for 51 to help beat Sussex yesterday.
Bess is called up ostensibly as cover for Leach, who looks likely to replace Robinson in the side. His place could go to Somerset seamer Craig Overton, but that would necessitate leaving out a spinner again. A further complication is that Overton received allegations of racism on the field in 2015, although he reasserted his belief that he is innocent in an interview with Wisden last week.