The suspension handed to England cricketer Ollie Robinson while he is investigated for racist and sexist messages posted as a teenager is “over the top”, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said.
Robinson had an impressive Test debut in the draw with New Zealand at Lord’s, picking up seven wickets in the match and making a handy 42 with the bat.
However, the start to the pace bowler’s Test career was overshadowed by the emergence of the offensive posts he sent in 2012 and 2013, when he was in his late teens.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said Robinson has been suspended from all international cricket pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation.
Mr Dowden said: “Ollie Robinson’s tweets were offensive and wrong.
“They are also a decade old and written by a teenager.
“The teenager is now a man and has rightly apologised.
“The ECB has gone over the top by suspending him and should think again.”
Sussex seamer Robinson, now 27, will miss the second test against New Zealand.
England captain Joe Root said on Sunday he “couldn’t believe” what had emerged on Wednesday and added “it’s not acceptable within our game”, before the ECB statement confirmed Robinson would leave the team bubble.
“England and Sussex bowler Ollie Robinson has been suspended from all international cricket pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation following historic tweets he posted in 2012 and 2013,” the statement said.
“He will not be available for selection for the LV= Insurance second Test against New Zealand starting at Edgbaston on Thursday June 10. Robinson will leave the England camp immediately and return to his county.”
After the first day’s play between England and New Zealand, Robinson read from a prepared statement to say he was “embarrassed” and “ashamed” of the offending posts.
One of the messages, sent in 2012, said “my new Muslim friends is the bomb” while another said “not going to lie a lot of girls need to learn the art of class! #getsome”.
They came to light hours after England had marked the first Test of the summer at the Home of Cricket by sharing a “Moment of Unity” alongside the visiting Black Caps before play, taking a stand against several forms of discrimination.
Robinson apologised to the media and to his team-mates and while Root believes the contrition is heartfelt, the England captain believes everyone within the game can take lessons following what has transpired.
Root said: “It’s not acceptable within our game. We all know that.
“He addressed the dressing room straight away. He fronted up to it. He showed a lot of remorse from that point onwards. You can see it’s very genuine from how he’s been around the group and the team.
“And I think it’s a great lesson for everyone within our game that we can all do more.
“We all have to keep looking to educate ourselves, trying to better the environment for everyone, trying to be as inclusive as we can, keep making everyone feel comfortable to play what a wonderful sport we have.”
Robinson has a separate employment contract with Sussex so he is free to play, if selected, for the county during his international suspension.