West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel has revealed the extent of the homophobic slur to England captain Joe Root during the final Test in St Lucia earlier this week – and issued an unreserved apology.
Gabriel was warned by umpires Rod Tucker and Kumar Dharmasena for unsavoury language used on day three at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium. He has since been banned for four ODIs or two Tests and received a 75% match fee fine.
‘I think I owe it to friends and well-wishers, and to all supporters of West Indies cricket to provide an accurate record of what happened,’ Gabriel wrote in the statement.
‘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?”
‘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.”
‘I am comforted by the fact that there are no hard feelings between us.’
The West Indies lost the final Test by 232 runs, but won the series two-one.