Former Indian all-rounder Madan Lal, one of the stars of India’s first-ever ODI World Cup victory, part of the Kapil’s Devils squad of the 1983 Prudential Cup, is not known to mince his words. The cricketer-turned-analyst says the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) may have overreacted in the case of the suspension of Ollie Robinson.
For the uninitiated, Robinson, 27, was suspended by the ECB for his offensive racist and sexist tweets, dating back to 2012-13. Since them Robinson profusely apologised and proceeded to take “a short break from cricket”.
More than anything else, Lal was taken by surprise by the timing of ECB’s symbolic action: coming as it did after Robinson had made an impressive debut for England against New Zealand and done well with both the ball and the bat. Connected to India decided to quiz the former Indian all-rounder as well as two representatives of generation-next -- young students and lovers of cricket -- on the contentious issue. Here’s what they had to say:
Madan Lal: “More than anything else, I am surprised by what the English cricket board has done. They should have had a stern word with Ollie before drafting him in the eleven. They could have said: You may have made certain statements when you were young. It was a long time ago. But now you are playing for the country you must be more cautious about what you speak. In my view they should not have suspended Ollie right after he earned a place in the England team. A sportsperson has to really work hard to finally wear the national jersey and make it to an international team. The Board should not have broken his dreams at this particular juncture.”
“I believe whatever Ollie said is definitely wrong and an investigation is required in the matter. But he was merely 18 years old at the time of making those racist and sexist comments. To hold someone accountable for the comments that they made at a very young age, when they probably didn’t have the maturity to understand the repercussions of their actions is a bit uncalled for. I believe he deserves a second chance provided he apologises unconditionally and any investigation into the matter concludes that it was a one-time affair,” says Ahmad Khan, a student of software engineering, with Delhi Technological University.
"I think when you are a teenager of 18 or 19, you will do and say problematic things. You have been brought up and conditioned by a society that is inherently racist and sexist and that is going to show in the form of humour that you have and in the things that you say. I think there is no moral standard you can impose there. However it is a reasonable expectation that when there is a public personality with a problematic past, they must address it and take proper accountability for it. I think Ollie didn’t address it himself. Neither did he take proper accountability. When the tweets resurfaced he said he wasn’t sexist or racist and that he was embarrassed and sorry. I think that isn’t enough. He should take greater accountability for his actions,” says Ayan Garg, a student of first year at the National Law University, Delhi.