Ollie Robinson has pulled out of playing for Sussex this weekend citing the need for a break as the England and Wales Cricket Board continues to deliberate over the offensive teenage tweets that plunged the sport into a crisis.
Robinson, 27, was stood down from the England side taking on New Zealand at Edgbaston this week, with Joe Root side’s fighting back from a collapse on day one of the second Test as Dan Lawrence’s unbeaten 67 took them to 258 for seven.
However, while Robinson is free to play county cricket as he awaits a possible ECB sanction, Sussex have granted him leave on the grounds of “mental health and wellbeing” and confirmed the club will not be adding a punishment of their own.
In a statement issued on Thursday Sussex stressed that the tweets Robinson sent between 2012 and 2013 were “completely unacceptable” but added that the seamer retains “the full support” of all his county team-mates and will be welcomed back to the club when ready.
The Sussex statement continued: “Ollie is a very different man from the one that wrote those tweets and has clearly learned much in the intervening years.
“He has made clear the shame, embarrassment, and remorse he feels for the discriminatory comments he made.
“ As a result of his actions, Ollie has had the opportunity to represent his country suspended, is at the centre of intense public and media scrutiny and faces the possibility of further disciplinary action from the ECB.
“Sussex Cricket will not be adding to these significant penalties. The club will turn its attention to supporting Ollie in his commitment to continue to educate himself in the area of equality, diversity and inclusion.”
As well as Robinson, who will initially miss T20 Blast games against Gloucestershire on Friday and Hampshire on Saturday, the ECB board has also been looking into questionable social media posts by other England players and discussions continue with the Team England Player Partnership during the second Test.
On the field Root’s side were roared on by 17,000 supporters at Edgbaston as part of the government’s pilot scheme for sporting events. Rory Burns, who followed a century in the draw on Sunday at Lord’s with 81, insists their focus has not been affected.
Burns said: “As soon as we got here it was: ‘What can we do to win the game and win the series?’ It’s just been all eyes on the cricket, trying to produce our best.”
Asked about Lawrence, who led a recovery from 185 for six, Burns replied: “He enjoys his flair and some of his shot-making was brilliant. There is something in this surface for everyone.”