Ollie Robinson has been named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in the 2022 edition of the Wisden Almanack opening up on the impact of the revelation of a series of racist and sexist historical tweets that overshadowed his Test debut and saw him serve a ban.
Robinson, now 28, finished the 2021 summer as England’s leading Test wicket taker, was making his debut at Lord’s when a series of offensive tweets he had sent between the ages of 18 and 20 emerged online.
Robinson was informed of the news after leaving the field on day one and apologised to his teammates as well as reading out a pre-prepared statement by the ECB to the press addressing the issue.
“That was the hardest thing,” Robinson said of apologising to his teammates. “I stood up and got that choked feeling straightaway. I said I hoped they’d all forgive me.”
Of his statement that he read to the press he said, “In hindsight, I probably should have gone off the cuff, and apologised from the heart.”
Robinson was banned for eight matches for the tweets, three of which he served and five of which were suspended, as well being fined £3,200 by The Cricket Discipline Committee who called the tweets, “racist, sexist, disablist, Islamophobic and offensive”. He would also take part in educational training courses from the Professional Cricketers’ Association.
“When the tweets resurfaced. I felt like I was different already,” Robinson told the Wisden Almanack. “But I looked at myself and thought: ‘Do I still have those views? Am I still that person?’ I might have turned a corner four or five years ago, but have I really got better? Are there bits of those tweets that are still in me?
“I was living a bit of a drunk life back then. My parents had divorced, and I was going out three or four times a week with my mates, joy-riding at night, living a different life to that person I feel I am now. I understand why people were shocked.”
According to the Almanack, Robinson received support from friends and teammates, “some from backgrounds he had mocked”.
“It was nice I had their support,” Robinson said. “They told me that’s not who I am. I was having doubts – that I was the worst human ever.”
Robinson also addressed the doubts surrounding his fitness which had been publicly called into question by England’s bowling coach Jon Lewis during their Ashes defeat. Robinson would then go on to miss the entirety of England’s tour of the Caribbean due to a reoccurring back spasm.
“I know I need to be fitter to maintain spells at my ideal pace of 82, 83mph,” he said. “I get that little bit more off the wicket. If I can do that consistently for five days, instead of being 80, 81 the first two days, then 78 the last few, it would mean batters don’t feel they are getting as much relief.”