Shannon Gabriel, the West Indian fast bowler who was suspended from the next four international games, has issued a statement where he apologized for the behavior that led up to the suspension. What he had said was not picked up by the microphone embedded in the stumps, only the response by England captain Joe Root who told him that it was unacceptable, Gabriel gave a good apology where he described what he said, what had led up to him saying it, acknowledged that it was wrong, and apologized.
Shannon Gabriel has extended an “unreserved apology” to Joe Root and the wider cricketing world for his sledge during the St Lucia Test, which has since led to a four-match suspension on him, also calling the episode an “opportunity for myself and all athletes to recognize the need for sensitivity and respect in their interactions with all”.
Gabriel also decided to state his account of the conversation that took place between him and Root, of which only one line was picked up by the stump mic earlier. “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,” 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.'”
Gabriel went on to say that he had had a conversation with Root since and “I am comforted by the fact that there are no hard feelings between us” at the end of what he referred to as something he had initially assumed was “inoffensive picong [taunt] and sporting banter” but had since used as a “learning experience”.
I think it significant that Root himself had not meant to make the issue public, seeing his rebuke of Gabriel as a private matter just between the two of them, so he could not be accused of grandstanding at Gabriel’s expense. I think having an immediate negative reaction from peers can change the attitudes of athletes more than institutional punishments or general public opprobrium, though the latter may be necessary as reinforcement. Most athletes want to have the respect of their peers, especially of other athletes at the top of their game like Root.