Shannon Gabriel has extended an “unreserved apology” to Joe Root and the wider cricketing world for his sledge during the St Lucia Test, which has since led to a four-match suspension on him, also calling the episode an “opportunity for myself and all athletes to recognize the need for sensitivity and respect in their interactions with all”.
Gabriel also decided to state his account of the conversation that took place between him and Root, of which only one line was picked up by the stump mic earlier. “I think I owe it to them (friends and well-wishers) and to all supporters of West Indies cricket to provide an accurate record of what happened,” he wrote in the statement.
“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 recognize now that I was attempting to break through my own tension when I said to Joe Root: ‘Why are you smiling at me? Do you like boys?’
“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.'”
Gabriel was charged with a Level 2 offence under article 2.13 of the ICC’s Code of Conduct, covering “personal abuse”. There was no formal hearing with Jeff Crowe, the match referee, as Gabriel accepted the charge, following which he was given a four-match ban and fined 75% of his match fee.
Gabriel went on to say that he had had a conversation with Root since and “I am comforted by the fact that there are no hard feelings between us” at the end of what he referred to as something he had initially assumed was “inoffensive picong and sporting banter” but had since used as a “learning experience”.
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