Former West Indies batsman Philo Wallace is upset at the punishment handed down to fast bowler Shannon Gabriel and thinks that nowhere in the conversation between England captain Joe Root and the big fast bowler, did he ever say that he had a problem with someone being gay.
“All Shannon did was to ask a question, he was not indicating a like or dislike for the gay community. All he did was to ask a question. This is a matter of interpretation but match referee Jeff Crowe decided to throw the book at the player.
“Things like these, have all to do with interpretation and Crowe, rather than looking at everything, is hell-bent ongoing by the books. This is a sad situation for Gabriel and I feel for him.
Wallace said that Gabriel who was handed a four-match ODI ban as a result of obtaining eight demerit points over two years, was the bigger man in the situation and accepted what was handed down by the International Cricket Council (ICC) but it was not fair. Gabriel was also fined 75 per cent of his US$5,000 match fee.
Wallace was also not happy with the behaviour of England captain Joe Root. “Obviously he set the man up. This was very sneaky because he walked to the stumps and then made his comment. This is pure mischief and all of a sudden Root is hailed a hero by those groups in England.”
Wallace remembered that while playing for the Windies he encountered similar problems but understood that it was all banter on the field of play and treated it like that. I remember playing for the West Indies at the Gabba and an Australian fast bowler told me ‘why the hell you don’t go back on the banana boat’. I went down to Dessie Haynes on the other end and told him that I don’t know what he talking about because I came on a Qantas Flight and we left it at that.”
Gabriel in his apology said: “I recognize now that I was attempting to break through my own tension when I said to Joe Root: ‘Why are you smiling at me? 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.
“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 and sporting banter. I know now that it was offensive and for that, I am deeply sorry.”
Gabriel added that he had since spoken to Root about the incident, and the two have moved past it: “Joe Root and I have since spoken and I am comforted by the fact that there are no hard feelings between us.”
Gabriel was found guilty of breaching article 2.13 of the ICC code of conduct which relates to “personal abuse of a player, player support personnel, umpire or match referee during an international match”, following an incident with Root.
The incident took place on Monday, the third day of the third Test at the Darren Sammy International Cricket Ground in St Lucia.