NASSER HUSSAIN: England were right to axe Ollie Robinson for his shocking historic tweets but I am uneasy with ‘zero tolerance’… how far back does a mistake have to be made before we can forgive it?
- England were right to axe Ollie Robinson for his historic racist and sexist tweets
- I am uneasy with the term ‘zero tolerance’ – where do you draw the line?
- There needs to be an understanding that people will make mistakes
The England cricket team, like any other, is full of people with different characters, personalities and opinions. And like any team or group it is going to be full of people who have made mistakes and done things wrong at some point in their lives.
The problem for Ollie Robinson is that his mistake came in the form of shocking tweets that were, as Joe Root said at the end of the first Test, totally unacceptable.
They were unacceptable at any time let alone on a day when the England team paraded in front of the Lord’s pavilion wearing T-shirts that rightly condemned discrimination of any kind.
England were right to axe Ollie Robinson for their second Test with New Zealand
What do those T-shirts mean if they are not about effecting change?
I’ve always said cricketers should treat social media as if they were in a press conference. That’s why it’s called media. Why would you say anything that you wouldn’t say in front of a group of journalists and the cameras? It’s still in the public domain.
In Robinson’s case these comments were made when he was 18 and 19 and, while that is no excuse, I still believe what I thought when this all first emerged. That we are part of a very harsh society if we can’t forgive teenagers making mistakes.
Indeed, forgive anyone making a mistake who is willing to learn and change their ways.
By all accounts Robinson fronted up immediately in front of the team after this emerged at the end of his first day as a Test cricketer. He apologised and he was close to tears. He could have spoken from the heart rather than read out a prepared statement when he was put up in front of TV but it seemed heartfelt.
Once England wore T-shirts that condemned discrimination, action had to be taken
And that is the crux of the issue. Is he apologetic and close to tears because he’s been found out and it has ruined what was meant to be the best week of his career so far? Or is it because he has genuinely changed and knows those words don’t define who he is now?
Once the ECB had stated they have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy, once the captain has said the tweets were unacceptable and once the team have declared their hand by wearing those T-shirts then action had to be taken.
So the right thing has been done in leaving Robinson out of the second Test and now the ECB have to properly investigate.
They have to go and speak to people who know the real Ollie Robinson. Has he really changed? Was that just a mistake? Was it a one-off?
That is true, too, of the as yet unnamed second England player who has been reported to have sent a racist tweet when he was 15 and others who somehow got dragged into this on Tuesday like Jimmy Anderson, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler. But I am a little uneasy about this term ‘zero tolerance’. Yes, I agree with having zero tolerance if something unacceptable happened yesterday but where do you draw the line?
How far back does a mistake have to be made before we can forgive it?
I am uneasy about ‘zero tolerenace’ – how far back does a mistake have to be made before we can forgive it?
There has to be a degree of tolerance in a civilised society and an understanding that people make mistakes. What is the point of trying to create change if you don’t allow people the opportunity to change?
We also have to remember the ECB have a massive duty of care to their players. The biggest week of Robinson’s life was torn apart and annihilated. It didn’t matter how well he played, everything was about something he did eight or nine years ago.
The whole country is suddenly talking about him for the wrong reasons, with even the Prime Minister getting involved.
So the governing body have to look after Robinson and others who are involved while the disciplinary process is going on. They can’t just be hung out to dry. Robinson has not been cancelled. He’s been suspended pending an investigation. That was the only option.
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