Robinson took seven wickets on his Test debut at Lord's

Credit: PA

Ollie Robinson has been suspended from international cricket pending an investigation into racist tweets, and pulled out of the England squad for the second Test against New Zealand.

Robinson was told after the first Test ended in a draw at Lord’s that he would be leaving the England camp and not travelling with the team to Birmingham to prepare for the second Test on Thursday.

He will be banned indefinitely from international cricket – he is free to play for Sussex – until an England & Wales Cricket Board disciplinary process has finished. No date has been put on when that could end. 

The ECB’s integrity team has to determine whether Robinson had any form of professional contract when he sent the tweets in 2012 and 2013 when he was aged 18 and 19 and playing second team cricket for Kent, Leicestershire and Yorkshire. He will also be interviewed to ascertain the circumstances of the tweets and explain his thinking at the time. 

Robinson will fear a lengthy suspension. There is no real precedent except for Ben Stokes, who as part of his ban for an altercation in Bristol, was suspended for two games and fined £15,000 when a video on social media showed him impersonating the disabled son of Katie Price, the model and television personality.

Robinson will be told to undergo anti-racism and unconscious bias training and get involved with ECB projects working with minorities.

The fast bowler wrote a public apology which was read out on Sky Sports after play on the first day of a remarkable Test debut when the tweets became public knowledge.

Just hours earlier Robinson had lined up with his England team-mates in a ‘moment of unity’ with each player wearing a black t-shirt emblazoned with a message of anti-discrimination. He apologised that night to his team-mates and Joe Root said England would support him.

The ECB were completely unaware of the tweets until they were contacted by the media as Robinson bowled at Lord’s. 

England players wore black t-shirts emblazoned with anti-discrimination messages before the start of play on day one

Credit: AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

“I couldn’t believe them personally,” said Root about the tweets. “I did not know how to take them on the surface. The most important thing is Ollie is part of this dressing room. We have to support him. We have to try and do everything we can to learn and understand he has to do better.

“It’s not acceptable within our game, we all know that. He addressed the dressing room straight away, spoke to media outlets and fronted up to it, showed a lot of remorse. You can see from how he has been around the group that it was very genuine. And I think it’s a great lesson for everyone within our game that we can all do more, and we all have to keep looking to educate ourselves and try to better the environment for everyone. 

“We are trying to make the game as inclusive as we can which starts with us players at the top of the game which we set out at the start of the week with that moment of unity. We want to make a big change in the game, and we want to make our game inclusive and diverse.

“It’s really important we continue to do that, we keep educating ourselves but by doing that we’re not saying that we’re perfect and now we’ve got to keep bettering ourselves as well.”

Statement: Ollie Robinson suspended from all international cricket

— England and Wales Cricket Board (@ECB_cricket) June 6, 2021

The tweets were hugely embarrassing for the team and the ECB with a furious chief executive Tom Harrison, hinting heavily at disciplinary action on Wednesday.

He said: “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. 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.”

Robinson had a good match – taking seven wickets and scoring 42 runs – with Root saying “he has a game to be successful in Test cricket”. 

Root defended his team’s approach to the run chase that led some fans to boo as the game fizzled out, saying: “You look at the conditions and surface, it was very challenging. It was slow and hard to time the ball and get any sort of rhythm. You look at the target and amount of overs you have, it wasn’t quite as straightforward as that.

“We knew it was always going to be difficult. Initially, we set out to have quite an open mind and it got to the stage where it didn’t feel like it was quite possible to get that on.

“Of course it will disappoint a few people but from our point of view, we’re very much in this series. We leave here level and give ourselves a great chance to win the series at Edgbaston.”

Robinson is free to play for Sussex because he has a separate employment contract with his county and the suspension is part of his England conditions of employment.