England captain Joe Root has stood by his decision to challenge West Indies bowler Shannon Gabriel after the paceman was charged by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for on-field comments during the third Test.
Root was on his way to a century on day three in St Lucia when he responded to an inaudible outburst from Gabriel by responding: “Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay”.
Gabriel was warned about his language by the on-field umpires Rod Tucker and Kumar Dharmasena, who later decided to lay a formal charge against the 30-year-old.
It will be adjudicated on in the first instance by ICC match referee Jeff Crowe.
Root, who suggested on the third evening that Gabriel “might regret” his choice of words, did not want to shed further light on the incident after England’s 232-run victory but was more than happy with his own part.
“The ICC have got to handle things and I am not in a position to comment but throughout the series it has been played in the right manner between the two sides …” he said.
“As a player you feel you have responsibilities to uphold on the field and I stand by what I did.”
Stonewall, a leading UK LGBT equality charity, had earlier led the plaudits for Root’s calm response to Gabriel in the heat of battle.
Steve Davies, the former England wicketkeeper who came out as gay in 2011, supported Root’s stance on Twitter.
The Somerset player wrote: “There is no room in the game for any form of discrimination…. Well done @root66 and @englandcricket #Respect”
Former England captain Nasser Hussain, in St Lucia in his role as a television commentator, also tweeted his admiration.
“I don’t know who said what to whom … but boy do I applaud Joe Root’s reaction here,” Hussain said.
For me his 12 words as a role model will be in the end more important than a Test hundred or possible victory.”
West Indies coach Richard Pybus told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special on Monday: “If a comment was made we’ll review it and if it was untoward we’ll be addressing it.”
Gabriel has been charged under article 2.13 of the ICC code of conduct covering directing “language of a personal, insulting, obscene and/or offensive nature”.