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‘Picong’ in a tense moment – Shannon Gabriel explains Joe Root incident

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Shannon Gabriel, the West Indies fast bowler who was handed a fine and four-match suspension for a remark he made to Joe Root during the third Test, has revealed what he said and tendered an ‘unreserved apology’.

Stump mics had caught Root’s response – “Don’t use that as an insult, there is nothing wrong with being gay” – which gave a reasonable indication of what Gabriel might have said. In a public statement, the bowler has provided a clearer account of what happened.

“The exchange occurred during a tense moment on the field,” Gabriel’s apology read. “The pressure was on and England’s captain Joe Root was looking at me intensely as I prepared to bowl, which may have been the usual psychological strategy with which all Test 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 at me? Do you like boys?’

“His response, which was picked up by the microphone, 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 said he has come to the realisation that his jibe was offensive, even though at the time of delivering it he felt otherwise.

"I know now that it was offensive and for that I am deeply sorry"

“I know now that it was offensive and for that I am deeply sorry”

“To my teammates 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 picong and sporting banter. I know now that it was offensive and for that I am deeply sorry.”

Gabriel added that he had since spoken to Root about the incident, and the two have moved past it: “Joe Root and I have since spoken and I am comforted by the fact that there are no hard feelings between us.”

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