Joe Root admits England have faced ‘ugly truths’ over offensive tweets

  • Captain says team will continue to fight for inclusivity in cricket
  • ‘It’s been uncomfortable, we’re going to have to front up’

Joe Root confirmed England will continue to deliver the message of cricket’s inclusivity with another “moment of unity” before the second Test against New Zealand starting on Thursday, despite admitting the past week has thrown up “ugly truths”.

Root’s side head into the series finale under a cloud after the suspension of Ollie Robinson, pending an investigation into offensive tweets posted when he was 18 and 19. More players also face scrutiny from the England and Wales Cricket Board for their questionable past use of social media platforms.

An ECB board meeting was convened on Wednesday to discuss the matter and, while the outcomes are expected in the next 48 hours, England’s Test captain maintains the team will still wear anti-discrimination T-shirts before the first ball is bowled on Thursday in front of 17,000 returning supporters at Edgbaston.

“We’ve had to face up to some ugly truths this past week or so and there will be challenges moving forward,” Root said.

“But the group of players we have now is very much committed to making [cricket] a better place, making it more inclusive and educating ourselves further.

“It’s been an uncomfortable week for everyone. We accept that we are not perfect and we have made mistakes, as a lot of young people have. We’re going to have to front up to what has happened, accept it.

“But ultimately we want to keep going on this journey that we’ve started of trying to better our sport. We will continue to do that because that’s how we all feel. That doesn’t change just because of what’s happened.”

The ECB has pledged to take “appropriate action where required” after historical social media posts from Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler (neither of whom are part of the Test squad) and Jimmy Anderson were reportedly unearthed, as well as from another unnamed player who was 15 at the time.

Root said the subject has been discussed heavily by the squad even though the blank scoreline that follows their decision to block out a draw at Lord’s on Sunday means minds must quickly switch back to cricket.

“We will continue to keep wearing those shirts,” Root added. “We will continue to keep finding ways to educate ourselves as players and as a group, and we will continue to find ways of bettering our sport and ways to action that throughout this summer and beyond.

“As a team we will continue to talk about it because it’s important but as professionals we know we have a job to do this week. Our full focus is preparing for that Test match and making sure by the start of the game that we certainly have used the last two days to prepare ourselves as well as we could.”

Robinson’s removal from the squad after seven wickets on the 27-year-old bowler’s debut leaves a vacancy with the ball, with Olly Stone, Jack Leach and Craig Overton contenders depending on the condition of pitch in the morning.

It may be that two feature if Mark Wood, who sent down 34 overs of high-velocity work, is rested.

New Zealand, meanwhile, have lost their captain, Kane Williamson, to an elbow injury and the spin-bowling all-rounder Mitchell Santner to a cut finger, with the opener Tom Latham down to deputise as captain and Trent Boult set to return after a late arrival on tour.

Asked about the storm engulfing New Zealand’s opponents in the past week, Boult said: “I can’t speak for the other guys but social media can be a difficult world at the moment. In terms of our profession as sports people you are in the limelight nonstop. You have to be careful with what you are putting out there, I suppose.

“We are obviously leaders, role models for a lot of kids and fans around the world. There is a lot of accountability. It’s a tricky one. You have to be very careful.”


Ali Martin

The GuardianTramp

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