Ollie Robinson has been cleared for an immediate return to cricket in the wake of the publication of historic offensive tweets - during his Test debut at Lord's last month - after the cricket discipline commission suspended him for eight matches - five of them suspended for two years - as well as fine him a sum of £3200.
The tweets, which were posted between 2012 and 2014, when Robinson was aged between 18 and 20, contained racist and sexist content, as well as other pejorative comments, and proved particularly embarrassing to the ECB, seeing as they came to light shortly after the squad had stood for a "moment of unity" prior to the start of play at Lord's, wearing T-shirts denouncing various forms of discrimination.
Robinson was stood down from England selection at the conclusion of the Test, in which he claimed seven wickets across New Zealand's two innings and also scored 42 in his maiden innings. Pending the investigation, it was subsequently announced that he would be taking a short break from playing for Sussex too, and at a hearing on June 30, the commission took these factors into consideration while reaching its judgement.
"Robinson had previously admitted breaching ECB Directives 3.3 and 3.4 in relation to a number of offensive tweets which were posted between 2012 and 2014, when he was aged between 18 and 20. The tweets came to light on 2 June 2021, which was also the first day of his first Test match for England," the ECB said in a statement on Saturday. "Following a hearing on 30 June, the Panel decided that Robinson should be suspended from playing cricket for eight matches, five of which will be suspended for two years.
"As regards the three matches which are the subject of immediate suspension, the Panel has taken into account the suspension imposed by the England Team from the second LV= Insurance Men's Test against New Zealand, together with two of the Vitality Blast T20 matches from which Robinson voluntarily withdrew himself from selection for Sussex CCC due to the impact of these proceedings.
"Robinson is therefore free to play cricket immediately."
The decision meant that Robinson would be available for England's Test series against India, starting at Trent Bridge on August 4.
"I am deeply sorry for the hurt I caused to anyone who read those tweets and in particular to those people to whom the messages caused offence. This has been the most difficult time in my professional career for both my family and myself"Ollie Robinson
Responding to the verdict, the player reiterated his shame and embarrassment at his past actions, but insisted he had learnt from his mistakes and would work with the players' body, the PCA, to help other players avoid making the same mistakes.
"I fully accept the CDC's decision," Robinson said. "As I have said previously, I am incredibly embarrassed and ashamed about the tweets I posted many years ago and apologise unreservedly for their contents.
"I am deeply sorry for the hurt I caused to anyone who read those tweets and in particular to those people to whom the messages caused offence. This has been the most difficult time in my professional career for both my family and myself.
"Whilst I want to move on, I do want to use my experience to help others in the future through working with the PCA."
Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, also sought to draw a line under the issue, adding that the board would continue to learn from the incident as the sport seeks to foster a more inclusive image.
"We accept the decisions made by the Cricket Discipline Commission and the sanctions they have imposed," Harrison said. "Ollie has acknowledged that, whilst published a long time ago when he was a young man, these historic tweets were unacceptable. He has engaged fully in the disciplinary process, admitted the charges, has received his sanction from the CDC and will participate in training and use his experiences to help others.
"Given he has served the suspension handed down by the CDC, he will now be available for selection for England again. We stand against discrimination of all forms, and will continue working to ensure cricket is a welcoming and inclusive sport for all."