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Root of the matter: Shannon Gabriel apologises, reveals what he told England captain

“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 at me? Do you like boys?’…”

The following statement was issued by West Indies cricket team bowler Shannon Gabriel on Wednesday 13 February, after he was issued with a four match ODI ban for violating Article 2.13 of the ICC code of conduct with ‘language of a personal, insulting, obscene and/or offensive nature’ during their third Test match against England:

Photo: West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago fast bowler Shannon Gabriel.

It is now public knowledge that I have been disciplined with a four-match ban for a comment made on the field during the third Test match between the West Indies and England in St Lucia.

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 that it was offensive and for that I am deeply sorry.

A number of friends and well-wishers have reached out to me, anxious to offer their support and to enquire about exactly what had happened.

I think I owe it to them and to all supporters of West Indies cricket to provide an accurate record of what transpired. This is the spirit in which I offer the following.

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 at me? Do you like boys?”

Photo: England cricket captain Joe Root.
(Copyright The Week.co.uk)

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.”

Following the incident, on the advice of the manager of the West Indies team, I signed a document presented to me which confirmed that I had breached the ICC’s Code of Conduct. Since I had signed it, there was no need for a hearing and the ICC determined that I should serve a four-match suspension.

Joe Root and I have since spoken and I am comforted by the fact that there are no hard feelings between us. I think it is fair to say that neither of us ever expected the use to escalate to the point that 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.

I would like to thank everyone who has reached out to me with their support and advice and to assure them, my teammates and all fans of West Indies cricket of my continued commitment to the sport and to the team.

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  1. Excerpt: 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.”

    http://www.guardian.co.tt/sports/wallace-crowe-throws-the-book-at-gabriel-6.2.781051.f023ffc294

    • Llewellyn Lopez that’s ok . Thankfully you are retired. Go say that at any well run organization in 2019 and let’s see what happens. I’m not even debating it. Shannon recognized his error but you trying to find some conspiracy or victim shelter

    • Llewellyn Lopez There is a problem. People judge other people and then they decide they ‘don’t agree’ and the other person must change As long as adults are doing something different which is not harming others then why do we feel the need to be the judge and jury. It is wasting our time creating unnecessary angst for ourselves and those we deem deficient. Life is short and we can’t get wasted time back.

    • Btw. I think Root should have been reprimanded and punished as well for attempting to distract Shannon from the game.

  2. Brian ,why is it crossing in the line?You have heard that several times,were those Trinis offended ?

    • Llewellyn Lopez – (1) trinidad is not the world and the world has moved on (2) it’s important that spaces are created where all diversity is embraced (3) we make assumptions that when we called people that in TT in the past it had no effect them but that’s not true as many were offended and couldn’t speak up (4) we must also stop drawing a line between the cricket field and an office – same thing – both are social spaces where people earn their living.

      We simply must respect ALL people. Gay is not an insult and Joe Root framed it quite well

      And I can go on and on

    • Brian Harry to my mind there are two issues

      1. Whether his question fit the definition of abusive or insulting language?

      2. Whether the ICC equally applies its punishment. They didnt hear what Gabriel said but they brought a charge against him. Moen Ali talked about being called Osama by the Australians yet no charge was brought because no one could confirm that it was being said!

    • Brian Harry if gay is not an insult then what did Gabriel do or say wrong ?

    • Kyon Esdelle ent! Gabriel could and should have easily defended his words. Root said “don’t use it as an insult.. Nothing wrong with being gay”. Shannon basically agreed. Said he had no issues with that (meaning.. Being Gay). So why de hell was he being penalized for what was in fact just a question. He wasn’t abusive.. He didn’t call him a b****rman or anything. I blame the team management for not standing by him and advising him properly. Take bread from de man mouth 😒

    • Nigel Noel wherever you work, go say exactly what he said there. Let me know how it turns out.

    • Kyon Esdelle wherever you work, go say exactly what he said there. Let me know how it turns out.

    • Brian Harry this is sport where players are allowed to challenge members of the opposite team in a way that you can’t in a regular work setting.

      If he had said to Joe Root, you are a waste because you can’t hit the balls i am bowling to you would that have been seen as worthy of a charge?

      Let’s take that comment to a regular work setting would it be appropriate for someone in say production to say to a colleague in marketing that you are waste of time because a product launch didn’t go well?

      In this instance, what happens in sport cannot be compared to what happens in a regular work environment!

    • Nigel Noel good luck with that justification .

    • Brian Harry.. I just cannot believe you’re attempting to compare an office with a sporting files.. as I said to you on my post.. if Youre in top top level Sports and you want people to say nothing to you it’s best you go play chess

    • Kelvin obviously people can’t say whatever you like otherwise racist barbs would be considered a legitimate way to get under someone’s skin.
      So once you accept that everything cannot be allowed, then the conversation is what should pass and what should not.

    • Lasana Liburd but Brian Harry is trying to use the justification that if it is inappropriate in an office setting then it should be inappropriate on a sporting pitch.

      Swearing is not appropriate in a lot of office environments but regularly used on the sports field.

      IMHO it is a very weak argument!

    • Swearing is also used in offices

    • BriannHarry argument is ridiculously weak.. I’m sorry..

    • Honestly if I’m at the office and I ask a co-worker or maybe a woman from a different department if they like girls I doubt I would be disciplined. Especially if the exchange between us did not happen in full view of the entire office. I have a hard time accepting argument or parallels.

    • Rose-Marie if you asked that co-worker whether she likes girls at a time that you’re in heated combat. Wouldn’t the reference have a different connotation to if you’re liming at the cooler?
      Root and Gabriel were not chilling at the time. By Gabriel’s own admission it was a tense time of the match: pace bowler versus batsman.

    • Ignoring time

      Amongst men harsh words could pass and a week later is a lime

      Women is a diff matter

    • Lasana to be honest I feel if it was a shouting match in an office setting I would think the heated argument in itself might be more of an issue than the actual words “you like girls?”. Like if it was a full blown cuss out. Maybe from an HR perspective that might be unbecoming behaviour from both parties. But I believe this exchange happened in the middle. Yes it was tense and probably belligerent but the fact that he walked back to the stumps and made his reply means nobody else may have heard the exchange. So it wasn’t a shouting match where I would imagine everybody would have heard him ask “whappen you like boys?” and equate that to him calling him a “b****rman” for instance. I’m saying Brian’s implication that if those same words were used in an office the result would be the same (I’m guessing he means the speaker would get in trouble) is kind of a stretch for me. I believe that Shannon’s words could have been defended because in and of itself it was not abusive. He himself said he replied he didn’t have a problem with gays. Just doh smile at me. And none of what he actually said was heard by anybody. Yet he was disciplined based on Root’s crafty response.

    • Kyon Esdelle please stick with the logic. Joe root is making the point that “one should not use being gay as an insult”! Secondly, I know of no Fortune 500 company where Gabriel would have gotten away. I’ve worked with a lot of them in designing polices around diversity and inclusion. I honestly don’t even understand why we haven’t gotten onboard with these conversations which are quite widespread worldwide. All this old talk – go into BPTT or Shell trinidad and day that to anyone. Ask one of your friends to do it. I’ve been doing research and consulting in this area for about 20 years and some of the weakest justifications I’ve heard are in this threads. I say go bravely, and go to BpTT and do it – I know exactly what will happen

    • kelvin, you ask yesterday about me not wishing to continue dialog. So look at your response “Brian Harry argument is ridiculously weak”. Simply stating that an argument is weak does not make it weak nor does it refute anything. Read Robert Thouless’ book “Straight and Crooked Thinking” . In the meantime say why it’s weak and we can talk.

    • There’s a good article written on 8/20/13 in the Huffington Post that might help to further the conversation

    • The other thing that I find hypocritical about much of this thread is that in our TT society, many of our fellow citizens have used people’s sexuality as an insult. It is common to hear in Trinidad and Tobago “he cyar tell me nothing he’s a buller”, “who the hell is she, she’s a lesbian”, “they kill him because he like boys and had relationships with his students (a real case after a lecturer was killed on campus at uwi Mona). Why then are we playing like this comment is not something we have grown up hearing in a very insulting, demeaning and sometimes “aggressive and violence-inducing” manner?

      It might be a “little joke” for some but it’s an adverse reaction to another persons biological or preferential reality. It does not respect the other person’s humanity and reality. We cannot build societies that are safe and kind to some but we must for ALL. For these reasons it is wrong, disrespectful, demeaning and dehumanizing. It should be stopped! This is no joke; it’s an insult!!! Joe Root is right!

    • If Gabriel had called Root a term I would have supported the action

      He didn’t

      He asked about preference

      Simple

    • Brian Harry i think my argument is still valid, the field of play and the corporate setting are two different environments.

      What is acceptable/unacceptable in one is not necessarily acceptable/unacceptable in the other!

    • Nigel Noel hold on to that validity. I’ve left that part of the discussion.

    • Kyon Esdelle an is dat simple! Many people are equating his question to the same as calling Root a gay slur. Shannon himself said he doesn’t have a problem with gays. When the story first broke I thought he had called him a derogatory name and the punishment was justifiable. After reading what actually transpired I believe he was unfairly treated. Especially as what he asked wasn’t heard by anyone else. So you can’t say he set out to embarrass Root. If anything it was the converse because Root made sure the mic picked up his own response. All this digression about whether you could say what was said in an office without repurcussions is moot to me. We discussing acceptable/unacceptable behaviour on the field. And I’m not convinced that asking somebody what is their sexual preference could equate to calling them a derogatory name.

    • i do believe Root set him up. But was Gabriel genuinely asking a question, making a playful joke or trying to get under Root’s skin?
      Sledging is about getting under the opponent’s skin. And the talk about if he likes boys is obviously a reference to homosexuality.
      I agree that it was relatively tame and the punishment seemed harsh.
      But at the same time, I also think it was a homophobic comment. What else could it be?

    • Lasana Liburd Sana also I think his statement of not having any problem with gays, is being ignored somewhat and the earlier statement is given much more weight, conveniently.
      The minute Joe Root refused to say what exactly transpired was a red flag for me

    • Davis because the earlier statement is homophobic. Root made sure everyone knew about it and he drew attention to it. Mischievously I think. But Shannon accepted that he should not have said it.

    • Brian Harry I said to you it’s rodiculously weak as it’s clear to me you understand nothing about heated battles and what is said on a cricket field or football pitch. I am sorry but all your talk about this policy and that policy is for an office, to play top level sports yiu need thick skin and a strong mind.. it’s swim or sink.. brian Harry it’s people like you who attempt to take the. Competitive edge out of top level sports. To talk about ask this HR or that one is so weak it’s ridiculous, I am sorry but I will be honest and clear., you don’t know what it’s like to be in battle defending your country and looking for every possible edge to win.. in this case get a wicket., but you come with nonesense about Fortune 500 policy and you do this policy and that policy.. it is so weak and you’re insulting a lot of people intelligence. Do not compare an office with a battle on a cricket pitch or football field.. .

    • This world seriously gone mad!! I bloody wonder if a gay sportsman asks a straight sportsman, “you like girls?”if he responds there is nothing wrong with liking girls.. I wonder if there would be a big drama as what happened with Gabriel. It’s obvious Shannon said it in an attempt to rile Root.. but It is absolute nonsense and grossly unfair gabriel was sanctioned. In this world today the LGBT community cry foul for Rubbish. I personally couldn’t care less who is gay or lesbian or whatever they want to call it but be fair and if the LGBT community wants to be seen as “normal” they need to stop dramatising nonesense like what happened here with Shannon.. it should be the same actoss the board and as I said the reaction and sanction should be the same if a gay person asks a heterosexual man, “you like girls? why you smiling?

    • Kelvin Jack that’s bull. I’ve been on very competitive sports fields. I’ve said worst than Shannon said. I’ve done worst that he has done to opponents. Stop being trite! After doing that stuff I’ve gone into the world, lived in 8 countries, traveled to more than 50 fkr work and vacation and through this all I’ve learned that what I grew up saying to people is wrong! Llewellyn López, you should help kelvin jack understand how competitive and nasty and competitive our days were. You’ve learned just like I did, so I enjoy your questions (yiu are such a brilliant diplomat) which are intended to get folks to step back and think. As we discussed earlier, look at Mr Jack’s comment. I guess he’s the only person to have been in highly spirited competition.

      Yes Kelvin, i don’t have a fucking clue. Tell one of the guys like selris Figaro I grew up around that shit and see where it takes you

    • Looking for a competitor edge does not make homophobia right .

    • I maintain Brian Harry.. you have no clue about the intensity of top level sports. I also have no need to speak to Figaro as it’s you I’m speaking to..

    • Kelvin Jack I maintain that it’s not a reason for homophobic insults. I’m done

    • Lasana I guess it might qualify as homophobic. But Root not gay. He could have said.. Are you a retard? Are you blind? He’s none of those things either😏. He was smiling at him so it was… You like boys🙄

    • Rose-Marie Lemessy-Forde and I think that is a good point. We have become so PC where homosexuality is concerned that any comment no matter how innocent it is, gets an overreaction.

      If Gabriel had said why are you smilling at me, are you retarded? And Joe Root had responded, there is nothing wrong with being differently abled would it have gotten the same reaction!

    • Brian Harry I think you are getting a little too emotional.

      You appear to be starting to use threatening language, would that be considered appropriate in some of the office settings referenced earlier………..😒

      Also i am not sure how the companies that you have worked for and the number of countries that you have visited changes the view of others!

    • Rose-Marie I have no idea if Root is or isn’t gay. And remember Trump mocking the differently abled? That could be trouble too. Lol.
      Sport is part of society. We don’t have a safe space where we can be homophobic, racist, sexist or anything we like. Or we shouldn’t.
      There was this same thing here when a coach told a female referee why she not home cooking her husband a meal. And women got that same thing in the British game. Now there is more understanding that this is not cool.
      I suspect that 20 year olds or teenagers might wonder what the hell is not to get about this. Because they have grown up in a more progressive world than we have.
      We have to condition our minds to accept how the world has moved on rather than fight for safe spaces to hold on to our less progressive views. And it is natural that we will resist change for as long as possible. But it comes anyway.
      At the very least, Shannon will be searching for some new barbs to share with batsmen. Best case scenario is he understands why it was wrong.
      Another consideration: right now there are hundreds or even thousands of gay professional athletes who are in the closet and they deserve a safe space to operate in too right?

    • Lasana Liburd boy like we will need a contest to come up with a list of acceptable picong to throw for an opponent yes😅. Cause it real hard to come up with “insults” that not offensive to one group or another. Yuh batting like yuh have 2 left hand 👈. Cue Lara jumping in de dance😂😂

    • Nigel Noel ha ha ha . I need a sanction brother. Lasana will certainly hit me hard. I might need advocacy.

      Yiu did miss the point about the companies and countries – all I was saying is that I have seen how the situation and the sensitivities are managed

    • Relax Brian Harry.. it’s only a discussion

  3. Men get suspended for ONE game for cheating !!!! A flipping Captain !!!! ONE game ….. on camera for the whole world to see ….. this four game ban is ridiculous , every time we start to show some form there is always something orchestrated to take us backwards

  4. I read in a Telegraph article that Cricket WI accepted the charge “under the expectation that it is applied across the board, especially with the Ashes approaching.” If that is so, I will applaud them for at least making that stance.

  5. Excerpt: Moeen Ali, who for the second successive away series was England’s leading wicket-taker with 14, disagrees however. In his recent autobiography, the spin-bowling all-rounder claimed he was called “Osama” during the 2015 Ashes but saw the unnamed Australian player go unpunished at the time due to a lack of concrete evidence.

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/feb/14/do-you-like-boys-sorry-shannon-gabriel-reveals-joe-root-sledge?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

  6. I wonder how does a cricketer asking a competitor “Why are you smiling at me? Do you like boys?” amount to ‘language of a personal, insulting, obscene and/or offensive nature’? and warrant the player getting a a four match ODI ban? This is PC gone crazy!!

  7. White privilege and White supremacy being applied in desperate White losing circumstances.

  8. Will akways be unbalanced until the Cricket Board start defending it’s players. SMH!

  9. IMHO the ICC reacted to Joe Root’s reply moreso than Shannon Gabriel’s actually comment.

    I still don’t see how asking Why are you smilling at me, do you like boys? is considered offensive or abusive language and i dont think its homophobic.

    I say to people all the time, why yuh smilling so, like yuh eat cake? Am I somehow now insulting all cake eaters?

    The world is becoming way too PC!

    • Nigel Noel He should have stopped in the middle of that comment and waited for an answer. Then wiped the smile off Roots face with a smash to the wicket. Go Windies!

  10. its seems even discussing or mentioning homosexuality by straight ppl is deemed offensive

  11. Seems to me he made it clear that he had no problems with him liking boys… just doh smile at him… but yuh kno nah… ‍♂️

  12. If Desperadoes was still GAY Desperadoes somebody would be on their case. People too sensitive man.

  13. It’s much about nothing. He didn’t insult anybody

  14. in reality is 475% fine cause he can’t get a sweat for four matches he was a surity pick…
    HOW is that cool?
    Where is the team management?
    where is the TTCB?

  15. “Why are you smiling at me? Do you like boys?”

    “Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay.”

    “I have no issues with that, but you should stop smiling at me.”

    somebody tell me where the insult is

  16. how is that remark homophobic? he asked him if he likes boys

    what part of that is homophobic ?

  17. Leftist utopia :everything is an insult and everybody needs a safe space

  18. And a 75% match fee fine? #ICCIsNotARealOrganisation

  19. And that is worth a four-match ban? Steups!

  20. Sledging, trying to throw your opponent off his/her game is childish and unnecessary doesn’t matter who does it. Don’t stare and smile or insult your opponents it is bad sportsmanship. Play the game to the best of your ability and win that way. Go Windies Go .

  21. Perspectives. Had it been the other way around and root the bowler and Gabriel the batsman the stories would read Gabriel sexuallly harassing root. May be out press should defend Gabriel in the way they praised root.

  22. Who’s defending the rights of straight men?
    The same people defending the rights of white men.

    • im black-ish and straight.
      And i demands my right to assert that and be counted as a straight man.
      And if i dont like raisins in my sweetbread i have a right to leave it out of my menu

    • and your rights as a straight man are being infringed upon by not being allowed to insult other men on the basis of who they sleep with?

    • did Shannon infringe on Root’s right to sleep with his wife by interrogating the motives behind his offensive stare?
      If i asked you if your invisible pink unicorn were responsible for peeing on my gate for jouvert because i see a spot of invisible pink unicorn pee on my gate…does that make you guilty? What would your reaction be if you were not the owner of said species of unicorn? would you assume that i mean to insult you on behalf of all owners of invisible pink unicorns?
      One would imagine that guilt is only assumed by the guilty and that, under the tenets of the law, one is always assumed innocent?

    • No. He did not infringe upon his rights. He insulted him. Which has been deemed unsportsmanlike. Which it is. There are obviously ranges of insult and hurt, so if Root has called him a nigger that would’ve been clearly significantly worse.
      But there is no pretend that the intent was not to insult because we all live here and we all know what people’s intent is when they start talking about yuh like boys.
      And people keep acting like the ban is as a result of this single incident. It isn’t.

  23. so just now i cannot tell my children that i prefer them to be straight?
    That i want them to bring home a GIRL who is also STRAIGHT?
    WTF?
    This is an assault on my heterosexual rights!

  24. I’ve been saving my spit on this for quite some time now…
    But is there a difference between gay bashing and straight bashing?
    Had this comment been made towards a female athlete, would it have been taken to mean that Shannon was being sexist? Derogatory? Accused of toxic masculinity?
    At what point do we say hey, ok…a STRAIGHT MAN can say to another “supposedly” straight man whatever TF he wanna say and it aint gonna butthurt nobody’s special needs community?
    There are gay rights, LGBTQI rights, women’Who’s defending STRAIGHT SPORTSMEN?
    Who’s defending the rights of straight men?

  25. The penalty enforced is rather harsh for a comment which was made in my view without any malice!

  26. I think he could step up his insults or attempts at intimidating his opponents. In 1982, “yuh like boys ah wat” was used in the school yard. It’s 2019, surely his mental capacity has evolved from being back in the schoolyard.

  27. ICC on real fawking shit. First the ban on Holder and now this. Let England take them cutass like men. Setta bomboclat man up in dem feelings in the world now. Steups

  28. cutting d man pay for shite if u ask me

  29. Hmmm. Sounds like he was treated harshly. But maybe in this PC era what was considered picong long time is unacceptable . I would definitely not class this statement in the same category as calling someone a “b****bwoy” or “b*****man”. I think he was ill advised to plead guilty.

  30. Nonesensical he was charged for just.. end of… pure pure rubbish.. and Joe Root being praised.. give me a damn break..

  31. Brian Harry we have arrived at absurdity. Lasana Liburd just now if ah man tell you “allyuh qrc boy feel allyuh is all that” it will be offensive language. Its sports all kinda things get said…chups…

  32. Who is the judges put up they full history and. qualifications. I guess Gabriel should ah make a “monkey face.”

  33. This is why we should never be so quick to pick sides. Some ppl were real quick to place Gabriel in the category of a homophobe, by the account given in this article can we honestly say he deserved a four match ban! Goes to show the hype always superseeds facts.

  34. England could not win the series on field but the certainly have won it off the field.That is a insult,obscene etc statement??I have heard a lot worse.A man says “Nothing wrong in being gay” and is being hail as a hero??What next??

  35. Nah man…”do u like boys” is offensive language on a cricket field? So when Flintoff told Tino Best to aim for the windows, Tino Best shoulda respond ” are u calling me a field nigga?”. If Root had responded ” nothing is wrong with being a pedophile?” Would Shannon have been charged? Root could have said “Michael Jackson is my hero”. Would there have been an issue then?

    • Kion S Williams In my view this is why Root did not want to reveal what Gabriel said. Would have made him look petty. He accepted the glory of being hailed champion of LGBT community. Probably did not expect Gabriel to come forward either.
      ICC have mad themselves look bad in this Series.

  36. Bruh, y’all go have a beer and chalk it up a learning experience. These things happen and you have to learn from it. Serve your susension and then get back to cricket. Peace!!! #MenInMaroon #WestIndies #CricketLovelyCricket #NottinCyahStopWe

  37. So I respect Shannon for coming honest with this – his own open admission to crossing the line. I believe that some of the commentators on a previous thread should correct themselves. The idea that someone who doesn’t look like us always out to get us is worn and tired. Shannon Gabriel, thanks for being a mature adult and stepping forward to say “i’m sorry and I was wrong”. Cheers, young fellow.