From the Viewsroom

A case of overreaction or....

B Baskar | Updated on June 10, 2021

Ollie Robinson   -  Reuters

The Ollie Robinson issue is one ECB could have done without

The cricket season in England has just begun and already finds itself in a pickle. Ollie Robinson, the talented English all-rounder who made an impressive debut last week in the first Test against New Zealand, made some blatantly racist and sexist remarks on Twitter back in 2012-13 which have resurfaced recently. The English Cricket Board (ECB) promptly dropped him from the squad pending an enquiry. Robinson in his defence has said that the remarks were made when he was a teenager and that he has since matured and realised how abhorrent his earlier views were. In an act of contrition he has apologised to his team mates.

There is a growing opinion that the ECB overreacted by dropping Robinson. The argument is tweets put out almost 10 years ago by Robinson when he was a teenager should not be held against him now. Also now that he has apologised the matter should be put to rest. But is the issue really that simple where unacceptable tweets from the past can be dismissed as excesses of the teenage years? After all during Robinson’s teenage years issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia and Islamophobia in the UK dominated the public discourse.

UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has already called ECB’s move “over the top.” Not one to miss an opportunity, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson too supported Dowden. They were both promptly ticked off by former England cricketers Michael Carberry and Mark Ramprakash for bearing “undue influence in the case”. And they are right. It is too tempting for Tory politicians to turn this into a battle against “woke culture”.

One can hardly blame the ECB for its stand especially in an era where European footballers ‘take the knee’ before the start of matches in support of stamping out racism. A light rap in the knuckles for Robinson will look like going soft on racism while a stern a punishment may seem disproportionate for an act of “teenage indiscretion”. With more “historic” tweets from English cricketers emerging from the cupboard, ECB’s summer just got hotter.

Published on June 10, 2021

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