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Gabriel apologises to Root for asking ‘Do you like boys?’

UK Sport | Published:

The West Indies fast bowler concedes his remark was “offensive” but there are now no hard feelings between himself and the England captain.

Shannon Gabriel asked Joe Root “Do you like boys?” during the third Test between the West Indies and England, he has revealed.

The West Indies fast bowler has published a statement in which he has explained and apologised for the incident which overshadowed this week’s match in St Lucia.

Gabriel has been banned for four matches by the International Cricket Council following an on-field exchange between himself and England captain Root which allegedly contained homophobic remarks.

Microphones captured Root saying, “Don’t use it as an insult, there’s nothing wrong with being gay,” in response to a comment made by Gabriel.

What Gabriel had said prior to that was not picked up but the 30-year-old accepted the ICC charge.

That incurred demerit points and triggered a ban which covers the first four one-day internationals of the upcoming series between the two teams.

The statement reads: “To my team-mates and members of the England team, especially their captain Joe Root, I extend an unreserved apology for a comment which in the context of on-the-field rivalry, I assumed was inoffensive picong and sporting banter. I know now that it was offensive and for that I am deeply sorry.”

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The Trinidadian went on to offer his version of what occurred on field.

He wrote: “The exchange occurred during a tense moment on the field. The pressure was on and England’s captain Joe Root was looking at me intensely as I prepared to bowl, which may have been the usual psychological strategy with which all Test cricketers are familiar.

“I recognise now that I was attempting to break through my own tension when I said to Joe Root: ‘Why are you smiling? Do you like boys?’

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“His response, which was picked up by the microphone was: ‘Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay’.

“I then responded: ‘I have no issues with that, but you should stop smiling at me’.”

Joe Root has been widely praised for his handling of the situation
Joe Root has been widely praised for his handling of the situation (Adam Davy/PA)

Root has received widespread praise for the way he handled the matter. For his part, the England captain has not commented on the details of the exchange, other than to say he felt he did the right thing at the time.

Gabriel added: “Joe Root and I have since spoken and I am comforted by the fact there are no hard feelings between us.

“I think it is fair to say neither of us expected the issue to escalate to the point it has.

“Nonetheless, I embrace this as a learning experience and as an opportunity for myself and all athletes to recognise the need for sensitivity and respect in their interactions with all.”

Meanwhile, England all-rounder Moeen Ali has spoken in support of stump microphones being used to shine a light on on-field conduct.

His head coach, Trevor Bayliss, took the opposite view when asked on Wednesday but Moeen has a personal interest in the subject.

His recent autobiography included the claim that he was called “Osama” by an Australian player during the 2015 Ashes but no audio ever emerged.

Moeen Ali is in favour of stump microphones being used during matches
Moeen Ali is in favour of stump microphones being used during matches (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Just so people can swear? We want people to be attracted to the game.

“There is no reason to go personal. Sledge them about their cricket. If you don’t think they are good, tell them. But it’s the way society is, things come out of people’s mouths. You’re not going to get away with it now.

“There’s brilliant ways to sledge, just don’t go personal. It’s time for people to behave themselves.”

On Gabriel’s punishment he added: “It’s a shame, because Shannon is a really nice guy and a quiet person. But you have to be careful.”

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