Ollie Robinson: Michael Holding says bowler deserves second chance if ECB investigation proves offensive tweets were isolated
Ollie Robinson was suspended after racist and sexist messages he posted on Twitter in 2012 emerged last week; Michael Holding: "If he has done something like that nine years ago, and since then he has learnt... and changed his ways, then I don't think you should come down too hard on him"
Last Updated: 09/06/21 12:17am
Ollie Robinson should not be severely punished for his historical racist and sexist tweets if an investigation proves he has since changed his behaviour, according to Michael Holding.
Robinson was suspended by the ECB pending an investigation after offensive tweets he posted in 2012 and 2013 were unearthed last Wednesday, on the same day he made his Test debut for England against New Zealand at Lord's.
The 27-year-old apologised "unreservedly" for the social media posts, saying he felt "embarrassed" and "ashamed", and Holding believes the Sussex bowler should be given a second chance if he is found to have made no further offensive posts.
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"[It was] eight, nine years ago. Can the ECB then find out please, if beyond that time, Robinson has kept on behaving like that, saying things like that, tweeting things like that?" Holding told Sky Sports News.
"Because I was a young man once, I did a lot of rubbish as a youngster, and as you go through life you learn and recognise 'Oh, perhaps what I did at 18 doesn't apply now, I can't behave like that now'.
"If he has done something like that nine years ago, and since then he has learnt and he has done nothing like that and he has changed his ways in recent years, then I don't think you should come down too hard on him.
"Yes, suspend him because you want to investigate. You don't allow him to continue playing, like on Thursday, while an investigation is going on at the same time, because if you find out things that are horrible coming out in that investigation. But do it quickly, let's get it over with quickly."
The ECB has confirmed it is currently investigating "a number of historical social media posts by other individuals" in the England set-up.
It follows claims that a second England player posted "historical offensive material" on social media.
An ECB spokesperson said: "There is no place for discrimination in our sport, and we are committed to taking relevant and appropriate action where required.
"Given the concerns which have been raised are clearly now broader than a single case, the ECB Board will discuss how we deal with issues over historical social media material in a timely and appropriate manner.
"Each case will be considered on an individual basis, looking at all the facts. We will assess cases with the ECB Board before making further statements."
On Monday, Wisden unearthed one such historical tweet but concealed the alleged England cricketer's identity because he was under the age of 16 at the time.
When asked if his stance differed towards the second player because of his age at the time of the alleged tweet, Holding added: "Not really. Again, has he done anything since he was 15 years old?
"I don't know who that player is, so I don't know how many years ago he was 15. Has he done anything since then? Can they find records of him in the last two to three years doing offensive things, saying offensive things or tweeting offensive things?
"What has happened many years ago… we all make mistakes as young people, but if we can recognise those mistakes and correct them, and change our lives to recognise that was rubbish, and then do the right thing going forward.
"I don't see why you should be punishing someone for something they did a decade or more ago, and since then they have done nothing like that. I am someone who likes to give someone second chances, or even third chances."
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The decision to suspend Robinson attracted criticism from the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, who labelled it "over the top", with Prime Minister Boris Johnson stating he is "supportive" of Dowden's opinion.
Dowden's comments were slammed by former England batsman Michael Carberry, who said he had "no respect" for the Culture Secretary's words, while Mark Ramprakash has also spoken out against the Prime Minister's involvement.
"I totally agree with Michael Carberry and what Ramps are saying," Holding added.
"You keep on hearing that politics and sport shouldn't mix, but then you keep on hearing the politicians getting involved. When I hear Boris Johnson getting involved, it reminds me of [Donald] Trump with [Colin] Kaepernick in the United States of America.
"That should never have happened. I would hope that Boris Johnson would make that one comment and move on, and allow the cricket people to deal with cricketing matters. Yes they may say sportsmen get involved in politics.
"But sportsmen get involved in politics because of humanitarian things, not to do with principle or policy of the politicians or the government. I would hope they would allow the cricket people to carry on and do their own stuff."
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