Ollie Robinson issued an unreserved apology after historical tweets he sent which used racist and sexist language surfaced on the day he made his Test debut as the England and Wales Cricket Board vowed to launch an investigation.
Robinson, now 27, says he is “embarrassed” and “ashamed” of the posts he made in 2012 and 2013, when he was in his late teens, which were unearthed and widely shared online on the first day of the opening Test against New Zealand.
England marked the first Test of the summer at Lord’s by sharing a ‘Moment of Unity’ alongside the Kiwis before play, taking a stand against racism, religious intolerance, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism and ageism.
In a pre-prepared statement, Robinson said: “On the biggest day of my career so far, I am embarrassed by the racist and sexist tweets that I posted over eight years ago, which have today become public.
“I want to make it clear that I’m not racist and I’m not sexist. I deeply regret my actions, and I am ashamed of making such remarks. I was thoughtless and irresponsible. I am sorry, and I have certainly learned my lesson.”
Robinson, who joined Yorkshire in 2013 before being sacked a year later following “a number of unprofessional actions”, was the pick of England’s bowlers by taking two for 50 as New Zealand closed on 246 for three.
He overstepped with his first ball in international cricket and although he showed few signs of any nerves on the biggest stage thereafter, his performance was overshadowed by the tweets that emerged during the day.
Robinson added at a press conference: “It was a pretty low point in my life (at the time) and I regret that massively. I didn’t know they (the tweets) were still there and I just want to apologise to everyone. I regret it hugely.
“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.
“I don’t want something that happened eight years ago to diminish the efforts of my team-mates and the ECB as they continue to build meaningful action with their comprehensive initiatives and efforts, which I fully endorse.
“I will continue to educate myself, look for advice and work with the support network that is available to me to learn more about getting better in this area.”
His contrition is unlikely to be the end of the matter as ECB chief executive Tom Harrison revealed the governing body will conduct an investigation as part of its disciplinary process.
“I do not have the words to express how disappointed I am that an England men’s player has chosen to write tweets of this nature, however long ago that might have been,” Harrison said in a statement.
“Any person reading those words, particularly a woman or person of colour, would take away an image of cricket and cricketers that is completely unacceptable. We are better than this.
“We have a zero-tolerance stance to any form of discrimination and there are rules in place that handle conduct of this nature. We will initiate a full investigation as part of our disciplinary process.”
Robinson’s current county Sussex condemned the tweets while offering their support to their bowler.
Sussex said in a statement: “It goes without saying that we were beyond disappointed to read these tweets when they were brought to our attention. Their content was wholly unacceptable.
“We are pleased that Ollie has apologised unreservedly and taken responsibility for a significant mistake that he made as a teenager. His age does not excuse the content of these tweets in any way and he will now suffer the consequences of his actions.
“In the years since the tweets were posted, Ollie has matured hugely. The Ollie Robinson we know at Sussex is very different from the young man that sent these tweets.
“We know he recognises the severity of the situation and that he is devastated that what should have been a proud day has been overshadowed in this manner. We know also that Ollie will learn some very important lessons from this experience. We will be here to offer any support Ollie needs during that process.”
A statement from the Professional Cricketers’ Association said it does not condone any discriminatory behaviour, and is committed to educating members on all forms of discrimination.
“Since these tweets were posted, Ollie has received specific workshops and education to challenge opinions and behaviours surrounding discrimination, and the PCA will continue to offer advice, guidance and support to Ollie,” the statement read.
“The PCA continues to work closely with the ECB, first-class counties and women’s regional centres to remind its members of the requirements and behaviours demanded of a professional cricketer.”