Midway through a successful second spell on the first day of the first Test at Lord’s between England and New Zealand, debutant Ollie Robinson was not to know a storm he himself created was about to engulf him.
Robinson enjoyed a fruitful debut – causing New Zealand’s Tom Latham to chop on for 23, and then pinning Ross Taylor in front for an unsure 14. But it was racist and sexist tweets he posted nine years earlier that will linger in the memory more than his bowling prowess in his first time out for the national side.
The tweets, posted between 2012 and 2014 while he was at county side Yorkshire and when he was 19, included vile racist and sexist remarks, and they were made known by people on Twitter as the afternoon dragged on. By the time Robinson walked off the ground, the wider press had broken the news and England’s debutant was forced to make a live apology – in the form of a hastily written statement – on Sky’s broadcast.
“I want to make it clear that I’m not racist and I’m not sexist,” he told Sky’s broadcast team.
“I deeply regret my actions, and I am ashamed of making such remarks.”
ECB must take action against Robinson
We can sit here and argue incessantly about whether social media posts, written long ago, have any bearing on a person’s maturity and worldview in the present.
But world sport has been marred by these issues for too long, fans and players included.
What makes Robinson’s previous remarks even worse (if that’s possible) is that at the start of play England and New Zealand players stood in solidarity to broadcast that “Cricket is a Game for Everyone.”
England players, Robinson included, wore black shirts with words saying the team stands against racism, religious intolerance, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism and ageism. But the debutant’s actions in the past were not good enough.
Certainly not, if Robinson’s tweets are anything to go by.
Some have argued that Robinson should not be dragged down by actions he made years ago, and there is some wisdom in that – everyone deserves a second chance.
But if the ECB wants to stamp out offensive behavior once and for all and make cricket a game for everyone, it needs to come down hard on Robinson for his vile tweets. Either that, or there will be those who will call the ECB a national cricketing body of words and not actions.