England v New Zealand - ECB to launch ‘full investigation’ over Ollie Robinson’s racist and sexist messages

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.

England's Ollie Robinson on his Test debut. Picture: PA

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.

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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.

England's Ollie Robinson celebrates taking the wicket of New Zealand's Tom Latham. Picture: PA

“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 2-50 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 was sacked by Yorkshire in 2014, as reported in yesterday’s The Yorkshire Post, amidst rumours of poor timekeeping, silly misdemeanours and even turning up to play at the wrong ground.

Robinson was sacked for three undisclosed serious breaches of discipline at Yorkshire over a nine-month period, along with a string of lesser offences, which left Martyn Moxon, the Yorkshire director of cricket, bemoaning the loss of a player he had identified as having the potential to become “a very good cricketer”.

That potential has since been realised, Robinson taking 279 first-class wickets at 21.04 and scoring 1,667 runs at 22.22 having found a new lease of life at Sussex.

On the field, Devon Conway justified New Zealand’s show of faith with a deeply impressive century on Test debut as England’s all-seam frontline attack toiled for scant reward on an unresponsive Lord’s surface.

South Africa-born Conway combined a series of punchy drives and stout defence in a self-assured 136 not out, becoming the sixth batsman to make a debut hundred at the Home of Cricket, as the tourists reached 246-3 at stumps.

James Anderson dismissed Kane Williamson for the seventh time – the most success any bowler has had against the Kiwi captain – but it was a rare moment of joy for the Lancastrian as he equalled the record for most England caps.

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