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Murray: What did Shannon really do?

West Indies pacer Shannon Gabriel, left, and England captain Joe Root settle their misunderstanding with a hand shake and the end of the third Test which was won by England at the Darren Sammy International Cricket Ground in St Lucia. West Indies won the Winden Trophy series 2-1. Twen­ty-four hours af­ter West In­dies pac­er Shan­non […]

West Indies pacer Shannon Gabriel, left, and England captain Joe Root settle their misunderstanding with a hand shake and the end of the third Test which was won by England at the Darren Sammy International Cricket Ground in St Lucia. West Indies won the Winden Trophy series 2-1.

Twen­ty-four hours af­ter West In­dies pac­er Shan­non Gabriel was hand­ed a fine and four-match sus­pen­sion for a re­mark he made to Joe Root dur­ing the third Test in St Lu­cia on the third day, he of­fered an ‘un­re­served apol­o­gy’.

On Mon­day, the stump mics had caught Root’s re­sponse – “Don’t use that as an in­sult, there is noth­ing wrong with be­ing gay” – which gave a rea­son­able in­di­ca­tion of what Gabriel might have said. In a pub­lic state­ment, the bowler has pro­vid­ed a clear­er ac­count of what hap­pened.

“The ex­change oc­curred dur­ing a tense mo­ment on the field,” Gabriel’s apol­o­gy read. “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?’

How­ev­er, Guardian Me­dia Sports colum­nist Col­in Mur­ray, a for­mer na­tion­al youth play­er puts his per­spec­tive on the mat­ter when he writes: West In­dies fast bowler Shan­non Gabriel has been banned for 4 ODIs (or 2 test match­es) be­cause he has reached eight de­mer­it points with­in a two year pe­ri­od, which con­verts to four sus­pen­sion points equiv­a­lent to the ban he has re­ceived.

Gabriel’s lat­est mis­de­meanour with the au­thor­i­ties stems from his clash with Joe Root: the no­ble and up­right gen­tle­man who al­so hap­pens to lead the Eng­lish as cap­tain.

Of course, this en­tire in­ci­dent has come to light be­cause Root’s re­sponse to Gabriel’s com­ment was picked up on the stump mi­cro­phone re­mark­ing, “Don’t use it as an in­sult. There’s noth­ing wrong with be­ing gay.”

Hav­ing not heard Gabriel’s com­ment, I was think­ing the worst. Could Root (who is mar­ried to a fe­male) be gay? Cer­tain­ly, if he is, that’s his choice, so why would Gabriel go down that road?

Root, who has sud­den­ly be­come even more of a na­tion­al hero be­cause of his re­sponse from the UK’s Min­is­ter for Sport and Civ­il So­ci­ety, to a num­ber of groups in the Les­bian, Gay, Bi­sex­u­al and Trans­gen­der (LGBT) com­mu­ni­ty say­ing that he is a great role mod­el for his re­marks.

Gabriel has been round­ly con­demned when in fact we nev­er heard what he said. Gabriel sub­se­quent­ly pub­lished a state­ment where he ad­mit­ted that what he said to Root was, “‘Why are you smil­ing at me? Do you like boys?’ It is ob­vi­ous that Root was on top of the bowl­ing and the smile alone was up­set­ting Gabriel.

Gabriel’s ques­tion/com­ment may have been said to break the ten­sion and to let Root know this is war and that we have no friends on the field of play. From Gabriel’s state­ment he “…as­sumed (the com­ment) was in­of­fen­sive pi­cong and sport­ing ban­ter.” While what Gabriel said may be cul­tur­al­ly ac­cept­ed (or not), it was said out of frus­tra­tion and peo­ple must un­der­stand this. I do how­ev­er be­lieve that Gabriel should have shown more aware­ness for how his com­ment could have been, and was, in­ter­pret­ed as ho­mo­pho­bic.

The man­age­ment of the team could have fought the is­sue and la­belled it as ban­ter. But more im­por­tant­ly, Root could have made a state­ment to quell the back­lash on the part of Gabriel. I per­son­al­ly ex­pe­ri­enced the very Eng­lish call you all sorts of names and even told me who my moth­er was when they didn’t even know her. But like with all things, to learn is the main ob­jec­tive and as Gabriel has said, he em­braces 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.” Well said, Shan­non. Some­times less is more.


Source: Guardian

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