West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel has been banned for four one-day international matches after making an alleged homophobic comment during his team's Test match defeat by England.
Television footage shared on social media showed England captain Joe Root appearing to respond to a comment from Gabriel by saying: "Don't use it as an insult. There is nothing wrong with being gay."
The original comment, made by Gabriel during the third Test between West Indies and England in Saint Lucia, was not audible on the microphone on the stump, and Root was coy afterwards when asked by reporters what had been said.
"It's Test cricket and (Gabriel) is an emotional guy trying to do everything he can to win a Test match," Root told reporters Monday. "Sometimes people say things on the field that they might regret, but they should stay on the field."
The England captain added that the bowler is "a good guy who plays hard cricket and is proud to be in the position he is. The battle was a good contest. He's had a wonderful series and he should be proud."
When asked if Gabriel's comment had crossed a line, Root added: "I think it should stay on the field. I don't want anything said in the middle to ruin what's been a good Test series for him and his team."
On Wednesday, the 30-year-old Gabriel accepted the charge brought by the International Cricket Council.
'Do you like boys?' Sorry Shannon Gabriel reveals Joe Root sledge
Shannon Gabriel, the West Indies fast bowler, has offered an unreserved apology to Joe Root and claimed the on-field comment to the England captain that triggered his four-match ban was: “Do you like boys?”
Gabriel will miss the first four one-day internationals against England that begin next week following an exchange of words with Root during the recent third Test in St Lucia that prompted the latter to say: “There’s nothing wrong with being gay”.
Only Root’s rebuke was picked up by the stump microphones during his side’s 232-run consolation victory. Gabriel opted not to challenge a disciplinary charge of “abusive language” that was laid by the umpires and thus had to accept a suspension due to accumulation of demerit points on his record.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Gabriel said: “To my teammates 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 [teasing] and sporting banter. I know now that it was offensive and for that I am deeply sorry.
Gabriel said there was no lingering ill-feeling between he and Root – the two players and their teammates shared drinks after the series – and added that the incident was a lesson to himself and other athletes about the “need for sensitivity and respect in their interactions with all”. The issue has also prompted the latest debate about stump microphones, which Trevor Bayliss, England’s head coach, would like turned down. Read more via the Guardian