Cricket

Ollie Robinson clear for cricket return after ban over racist and sexist tweets

Ollie Robinson is free to resume his England career after receiving an eight-match ban – three of which have been served, five of which are suspended – for the offensive tweets that emerged during his Test debut last month.

The Sussex fast bowler accepted two charges from the Cricket Discipline Commission relating to the social media posts written between 2012 and 2014 and, on top of his ban, will pay a £3,200 fine and undergo training from the Professional Cricketers’ Association.

Over the next two years Robinson will also work with the players’ union to educate others about “the use of social media” and “anti-discrimination”, the tweets written when he was aged between 18 and 20 having been deemed “racist, sexist, disablist, Islamophobic and offensive” during his hearing last week.

“I fully accept the CDC’s decision,” Robinson said. “As I have said previously, I am incredibly embarrassed and ashamed about the tweets I posted many years ago and apologise unreservedly for their contents.

“I am deeply sorry for the hurt I caused to anyone who read those tweets and in particular to those people to whom the messages caused offence. This has been the most difficult time in my professional career for both my family and myself. Whilst I want to move on, I do want to use my experience to help others in the future through working with the PCA.

The CDC panel, chaired by Mark Milliken-Smith QC and also including the former England cricketer Clare Taylor and the former first-class cricketer Anurag Singh, charged Robinson with bringing the game into disrepute and contravening the England and Wales Cricket Board’s anti-discrimination code.

In reaching its verdict the panel factored in the remorse shown by Robinson after the offending tweets came to light while he was on the field during the first day of the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s on 2 June.

“What should have been the pinnacle and proudest moment of his career has become, in some ways, its nadir,” the panel concluded, while also noting the “heartfelt” apology Robinson offered to his England teammates in the dressing room and “compelling evidence” that he is a reformed character.

As such the CDC, which operates independently from the ECB, deemed his initial three-match ban to have been served when he was suspended for the second Test at Edgbaston and then withdrew from two T20 Blast matches for Sussex after returning to the club.

The suspended element of Robinson’s ban – equivalent to five matches – will stay on his record for two years and be triggered in the event of “any further serious breach of cricketing regulations” and on top of any separate sanction.

Robinson’s fine of £3,200 is the equivalent of the squad fee he received for being originally selected for the second Test, while the panel noted the potential loss of a match fee if selected – each Test is worth about £14,500 per player – meant the overall financial loss is “not insubstantial”.

Tom Harrison, the chief executive of the ECB, said the governing body accepted the verdict and reiterated the sport’s aim to be inclusive and its stance against “discrimination of all forms”. He said: “Ollie has acknowledged that, whilst published a long time ago when he was a young man, these tweets were unacceptable. He has engaged fully in the disciplinary process, admitted the charges, has received his sanction from the CDC and will participate in training and use his experiences to help others.”

Robinson underlined his potential on debut with seven wickets and 42 runs from No 8 and is now available for selection for the five-Test series against India that begins at Trent Bridge on 4 August.

His England teammates are understood to have accepted Robinson is much changed from the young man whose tweets included “my new muslim friend is the bomb”, having rebuilt his career at Sussex after being released by Yorkshire in 2014 for unrelated unprofessional behaviour.

Speaking before Sunday’s third ODI against Sri Lanka at Bristol, Moeen Ali said: “I thought the ECB did the right thing, pulling him out of the Test series. He’s done his time in terms of the ban. Everyone makes mistakes and [you] just move on; you forget and forgive.

He’s a really good guy, I get on well with him. Regardless of the length of the punishment, the fact there was punishment was a good sign.

“Looking forward, you can’t get away with these things. Even as a young player, you have to be careful. Of course I would welcome him [back]. You move on and you try and work together. I’m sure he’s learned from his mistakes. It was a long time ago – which doesn’t really make a difference in my opinion – and, yeah, it was a surprise.”

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