That despite a skillful display of bowling, the talk on Ollie Robinson’s Test debut revolves around his inappropriate remarks made eight years ago is a good sign. It shows the greater awareness built over time with the advancement of social media about what is acceptable and what is not.
Robinson would’ve realised, you can’t anymore just convey what is right as an athlete, you have to learn and adapt those values within. Be a symbol for what you want to portray that you stand for.
“It is a lesson really that if you’re in and around the team treat anything you do on social media as if you’re doing a press conference,” former England captain Nasser Hussain told Sky Sports.
“If you’re going to wear t-shirts about online hate and abuse, anti-sexism and anti-racism, you just can’t be doing this (going against those values yourself). It is just not good enough and it is just not on.”
However, to criticise Ollie Robinson alone at this point would be completely missing the point and doing basically nothing to resolve a deep-rooted issue.
Who is at fault here? Is it just Ollie Robinson, who made those comments. Or the system and the environment that made his 18-year-old self feel that what he is saying or writing isn’t something he should revisit and revaluate?
Ollie Robinson issue – focus on education, not just penalising players
“When a teenager posts abusive, sexist, racist tweets, what is the air he is breathing? I believe we need to investigate whether there is/was a climate around the game where it was deemed okay to do so,” voice of cricket, Harsha Bhogle, rightfully tweeted about the same.
While Hussain put more of the onus on Robinson, Bhogle called out the “climate” in which the pacer has grown up and progressed to become an England Test cricketer.
It’s easy to target Ollie Robinson, drop him for the next game and move on, the tougher thing for ECB would be to shed light on their own failings, examine whether enough is being done to educate young men who ply their trade at the junior and domestic levels?
England can choose to throw their hands in disgust and make a public statement on how they don’t associate themselves with whatever Robinson was implying with his tweets and penalise him. Or, go about accepting their own role in this whole thing and make a cultural overhaul.
If Robinson is indeed dropped, the fact that the man to potentially replace him is Craig Overton, who himself has faced racial abuse allegations in the past, says something about the county game, which is reeling from accusations of indifferential treatment from one club to the other.
And so it is not just about Ollie Robinson, it is about the English system. Censoring social media and dropping/banning players won’t take you to the root cause of the issue. It’s not how you penalise such players, it’s how you educate them and make a wider impact. Read it this way: if you took care of culture that these players come from, you won’t have to sack them to resurrect your image.