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12 Feb, 2019 14:54

'There's nothing wrong with being gay!': England cricketer reacts to homophobic 'slurs'

'There's nothing wrong with being gay!': England cricketer reacts to homophobic 'slurs'

England cricket captain Joe Root has responded to West Indies bowler Shannon Gabriel after an alleged homophobic slur aimed at him in a verbal confrontation as tensions boiled over in the third Test on Monday.

Gabriel was warned by the referee for the alleged abusive language, who was picked up on the broadcast saying, "Don't use that as an insult. There's nothing wrong with being gay!"

The initial comment was not captured by cameras and Root refused to elaborate on the comments after the game had concluded for the day.

"Sometimes things are said on the field but they should stay on the field," Root explained. "I think they can sometimes be caught in the moment and not always say what you want to say or think you're saying. I think you should leave it there."

It is understood that no further disciplinary measures will be taken surrounding the incident. St. Lucia, where the third Test is being played, has criminalized homosexuality and it is punishable by prison time.

Root's words were praised online by a number of sports stars, including Gary Lineker and former England captain Nasser Hussein. 

West Indies coach Richard Pybus played down the alleged abuse after the close of play, saying that it is commonplace in cricket for fast bowlers to attempt to rattle their opposition. However, he did state that West Indies Cricket will investigate the matter if further allegations are reported.

'There's nothing wrong with being gay!': England cricketer reacts to homophobic 'slurs'

"I think the fast bowlers are always going to try and impose themselves on the game," said Pybus. "It's always a proper tussle out there. I think it is pretty standard.

"The series has been played in exceptional spirit, I wouldn't want to pre-empt anything. 

"Shannon is a proper old-school fast bowler, I think we need to find out if there is anything behind the rumors and then we'll address it."