ECB deserve credit for strong leadership in response to Robinson’s vile tweets

I am often reminded of the phrase that organisations take on the characteristics of those at the top.

In other words, where chief executives lead others tend to follow.

Those below will learn from watching what is acceptable and what isn’t. What they can get away with and what they can’t.

So when ECB boss Tom Harrison responded to the news of Ollie Robinson’s awful historic tweets he took the chance to show exactly where his organisation stands on the subjects of racism, sexism and any other form of discrimination under his leadership.

Harrison’s anger was barely concealed: “Any person reading those words, particularly a woman or person of colour, would take away an image of cricket and cricketers that is completely unacceptable,” he said. “We are better than this.

“We have a zero-tolerance stance to any form of discrimination and there are rules in place that handle conduct of this nature.”

Rather than establishing The Hundred, this may well be his greatest legacy.

Robinson was significantly younger when he wrote his comments on Twitter but he wasn’t young.

The old excuses about ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘it was only banter’ do not wash anymore and nor should they.

As a society we often infantilise sports stars so it is no wonder it sometimes appears like they take a bit longer to grow up. Here Harrison and the ECB are placing responsibility for actions squarely on the shoulders of those who make them even if they are 18 or 19.

It was a tough day for Robinson to have to face up to his responsibilities in such a public way when his two wickets on debut should have brought him only joy.

On a human level I do think it is possible to reflect on how unfortunate this is, and yet perhaps Robinson’s journey will become the cautionary tale the game and young cricketers need.

It is perhaps easier to understand where Harrison is coming from as his organisation try to tell the British public, potential sponsors and broadcasters that their game is for all, only to have to deal with issues like this or worse.

Harrison knows he can’t keep telling a new audience to ‘come on in! The water’s lovely’ before watching them dive into the mud.

We know that the issues of discrimination are societal but sport has a role in helping to shape society.

The players can’t be role-models one day and just cricketers the next.

So the way that the England team wore their anti discrimination t-shirts before the start of play was a sign of how seriously they take their elevated positions. And the way they have come down on Robinson with a full investigation shows that it is not a tick box exercise. They mean it.

This is what leadership looks like, and Robinson and others will learn by example.

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