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Gabriel apologises to Root over homophobic slur

On sidelines: Shannon Gabriel has been banned after incident
On sidelines: Shannon Gabriel has been banned after incident

By Andy Hampson

Shannon Gabriel asked Joe Root "Do you like boys?" during the third Test between the West Indies and England, he has revealed.

The Windies fast bowler has published a statement in which he has explained and apologised for the incident which overshadowed the match in St Lucia.

Gabriel has been banned for four matches by the ICC following an on-field exchange between himself and England captain Root which allegedly contained homophobic remarks.

Microphones captured Root saying, "Don't use it as an insult, there's nothing wrong with being gay," in response to a comment made by Gabriel.

What Gabriel had said prior to that was not picked up but the 30-year-old accepted the ICC charge.

That incurred demerit points and triggered a ban which covers the first four one-day internationals of the upcoming series between the two teams.

The statement reads: "To my team-mates and members of the England team, especially their captain Joe Root, I extend an unreserved apology for a comment which in the context of on-the-field rivalry, I assumed was inoffensive sporting banter. I know now that it was offensive and for that I am deeply sorry.

"The exchange occurred during a tense moment. The pressure was on and England captain Joe Root was looking at me intensely as I prepared to bowl, which may have been the usual psychological strategy with which 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? Do you like boys?'

"His response 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 added: "Joe Root and I have since spoken and I am comforted by the fact there are no hard feelings between us.

"I think it is fair to say neither of us expected the issue to escalate to the point it has. I embrace 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."

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