England bowler Ollie Robinson called Australian Test hero Usman Khawaja a “fucking prick” after bowling him out in the First Test at Edgbaston.
Robinson refused to apologise after yelling “fuck off, you fucking prick” after dismissing the Pakistani-born batsman who scored a Test-saving 141 runs.
This is not Robinson’s first racist outburst. And he was cheered by the Barmy Army, commentators and the following day’s media. In Australia, cricket writers either ignored the incident or excused it by saying Robinson was moved by “the heat of the moment”.
In the past, cricket was regarded as a gentleman’s game. A common expression all over the cricket world – among both men and women from white, brown and black countries – was “it isn’t cricket”.
That expression has died and so has the game. It is dogged by match-fixing, gambling, tax evasion, organised crime and all manner of corruption. Attempts to banish betting from the game has been met by raucous barracking from commentators, some players and the gambling industry itself, particularly in poverty-stricken India where it is flush with billionaires.
Robinson’s raise to fame and fortune as an MCC hero is interesting, and deserves to be told.
He was born in South Africa. After African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island prison, Robinson moved to New Zealand and later to England.
In 2012, when he was making his Test debut, he posted a rancid selection of racist and sexist tweets, later saying they were “thoughtless”.
They included one which said “my new muslim (sic) is the bomb”, another which said “a lot of girls need to learn the art of class” and a third which said “females who play video games actually tend to have more sex than the girls who don’t”, and also wrote, “I wonder if Asian people put smileys like this #racism”.
Nasser Hussain, who also suffered racist abuse when he captained England, said: “If you’re going to wear T-shirts about anti-sexism and racism, you can’t be doing this. It’s just not good enough, it’s just not on. I’ve read the tweets. You should never say those sorts of things whether you’re 18 or 28.”
England cricket writer Andy Bull was a lone voice of disapproval in the media, writing: “Ollie Robinson’s offensive tweets prove English cricket still has much to learn”.
Robinson was sacked by Kent Cricket Club, and two years later he was sacked by Yorkshire’s Aboriginal coach Jason Gillespie for “consistently displaying behaviour that isn’t professional”.
In 2017 England cricket officials fast-tracked Robinson’s transfer to the UK where he was celebrated and urged to “clean up his act”. The cleansing fell apart on the third day of the First Test at Edgbaston, but England crowds hailed Ollie as a “hero” while the Australian media seemed to ignore it.
But Australian cricket fans didn’t, and they will give Ollie what he deserves should he ever be selected to play at the MCG, SCG, Gabba, Adelaide or the WACA. As former Australian captain Allan Border was quick to say: “The Aussies won’t forget, that’s for sure.”