By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has moved from a position of not being all that bothered about discrimination in the sport to a position where even a saint would be unable to climb to the pinnacle of its virtue signalling moral high ground.
When Ollie Robinson (who made a successful debut for England in the first test match against New Zealand last week) was 18-years-old (he is now 27) he made some inappropriate, borderline sexist, racist and crass juvenile tweets: ‘I wonder if Asian people put smileys like this ¦) #racist’; ‘My new muslim friend is the bomb. #wheeyyyyy’; ‘Real n****** don’t let the microwave hit 0:00’; and ‘Wash your fingers for the mingers #cuban’.
He was young. By his own admission he has matured a lot since those days. Life is a learning curve and if we were judged for the rest of our lives for things we have said and done when we were young, very few of us would survive unscathed. I never had to contend with social media when I was a child. I would never have written those tweets, but I am sure that I could have easily written something that someone would find offensive.
Robinson offered a contrite apology: “I deeply regret my actions, and I am ashamed of making such remarks. I was thoughtless and irresponsible, and regardless of my state of mind at the time, my actions were inexcusable. Since that period, I have matured as a person and fully regret the tweets.” He also apologised to his team mates during the test match.
That should have been it. A young man said some stupid things when he was very young at the start of his cricketing career. He has apologised. Let's move on. But that isn’t good enough for the ECB who has launched an investigation and suspended him indefinitely from all formats of international cricket. Why launch an investigation? All the facts are in the public domain. The ECB has already decided that he must undergo anti-racism and unconscious bias training - divisive pseudo-science courses which make sure that everyone who attends them are told that they are racists, irrespective of whether they are or not.
The ECB needs to understand what redemption is. If someone is contrite, they should be forgiven - especially if what they said was when they were in their teenage years. If it genuinely cared about a player who - by his own admission - said stupid things as a teenager, it would accept his hearfelt apology and move on. And if the ECB wants a testimonial, look no further than Moeen Ashraf, a former teammate at Yorkshire, who has publicly said that the comments Robinson made all those years ago are not a true reflection of his character.
But the ECB isn’t interested in redemption and justice. It wants its pound of woke virtual signalling flesh to make it feel better. And that tells you everything you need to know about the governing body of my favourite sport. Getting the approval of Black Lives Matter, (an avowedly Marxist group with an extreme political agenda) matters more than a player starting his career in international cricket.
This great sport deserves better from its ruling elite.