London: West Indies pacer Shannon Gabriel has extended an unreserved apology to England skipper Joe Root following the sledging incident during the final Test match between the two teams at St. Lucia. 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 the on-field rivalry, I assumed was inoffensive pacing and sporting banter. I know now that it was offensive and for that I am deeply sorry, Shannon said in a statement, according to ESPNcricinfo.
On Day Three of the St. Lucia Test, Root responded to an inaudible comment of Gabriel saying: Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay. Following the incident, ICC charged the pacer for operational abuse of a Player, Player Support Personnel, Umpire or Match Referee during an international match and handed him a four-match suspension.
Shedding more light on what actually happened on the day, Shannon said that everything occurred in the heat of the moment while revealing that RootTs reply came after he said to him: Why are you smiling at me Do you like boys? I think I owe it to them (friends and well-wishers) and to all supporters of West Indies cricket to provide an accurate record of what happened. 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,” he wrote in the statement.
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, he added.
Shannon admitted the offence after the end of the match and accepted the sanction proposed by Jeff Crowe of the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Match Referees and, as such, there was no need for a formal hearing. He already had five demerit points against his name for two earlier incidents – three demerit points during the Jamaica Test against Pakistan in April 2017 and two demerit points in the Chittagong Test against Bangladesh last November.
With the addition of three demerit points within a 24-month period following his latest breach of the ICC Code of Conduct, for which he received a 75 per cent fine and three demerit points. He has reached the threshold of eight demerit points, which, pursuant to article 7.6 of the Code, have been converted into four suspension points. Four suspension points equate to a ban from two Tests, or four ODIs or T20Is, whatever comes first for the player. Shannon had earlier been suspended from the Mirpur Test in November 2018 when he reached the threshold of four demerit points.