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Ollie Robinson

Sunk by a silly teenage tweet

Alan Martin/Action Plus/Shutterstock

The suspension of England cricketer Ollie Robinson “shows our vengeful society needs to grow up”, says Douglas Murray in The Sun. On Wednesday, when the 27-year-old fast bowler was making his Test debut against New Zealand, “racist and offensive” tweets he had written aged 18 were dredged up. An ashen-faced Robinson issued an immediate apology, but the England and Wales Cricket Board has suspended him from international cricket while it carries out an investigation. Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden quickly came out to bat for Robinson. His tweets were “offensive and wrong”, said Dowden on Monday. “[They] are also a decade old and written by a teenager. The teenager is now a man and has rightly apologised.” Quite. Plenty of politicians have far spottier records.

Let the government fight “its battles with ‘wokeness’ on other fronts”, says Derek Pringle in Metro. It’s not as if this rising star – England’s leading wicket-taker in both innings – will be banished for ever. And what employer wouldn’t place a staff member on leave while it investigated? Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, has promised a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to racism and sexism in cricket. That means “there will be punishments for players who err”.

I’d understand if Robinson had posted “support for Nazism and turned up at training with a swastika on his sleeve”, says Matthew Syed in The Times. But stupid posts from almost a decade ago – things like “my new muslim friend is the bomb #wheeyyyyy” – call for education rather than suspension. The ECB is now investigating social media posts by one-day captain Eoin Morgan and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler. Let me humbly say to the likeable Harrison: beware. I hope to God he’s never made a mistake.

This will be an unpopular sentiment among my generation, says Gal-dem’s Maya Lothian-Mclean on Twitter, but this “rabid demand” for stupid and offensive historic tweets to be punished can’t go on. Singling out individuals won’t shift the cultures in which racism thrives. “OK, so someone was a racist little f*** at 18 and that was encouraged by the particular petri dish they existed in.” Surely there must be a more productive and constructive way forward than the current “blanket punitive approach”? Social media, in the grand scheme of things, is new, and it’s unwise to judge a teenager from their posts. I think we all know who the real children are.