(IRISH TIMES) — 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.”
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?’
“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’.”
The incident occurred as Root compiled 122 during England’s second innings, ultimately helping his side to a comprehensive 232-run win.
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.”