Television footage shared on social media showed England captain Joe Root appearing to respond to a comment from Gabriel by saying: “Don’t use it as an insult. There is nothing wrong with being gay.”
The original comment, made by Gabriel during the third Test between West Indies and England in Saint Lucia, was not audible on the microphone on the stump, and Root was coy afterwards when asked by reporters what had been said.
“It’s Test cricket and (Gabriel) is an emotional guy trying to do everything he can to win a Test match,” Root told reporters Monday. “Sometimes people say things on the field that they might regret, but they should stay on the field.”
The England captain added that the bowler is “a good guy who plays hard cricket and is proud to be in the position he is. The battle was a good contest. He’s had a wonderful series and he should be proud.”
When asked if Gabriel’s comment had crossed a line, Root added: “I think it should stay on the field. I don’t want anything said in the middle to ruin what’s been a good Test series for him and his team.”
The charge means Gabriel has accrued eight demerit points — cricket’s disciplinary penalty system — in a two-year period, leading to a four-match one-day international ban.
Gabriel has not featured for the one-day side since December 2017 and was not initially included in the squad for the upcoming five-match series.
Injuries to key players meant he may well have been recalled before the punishment was handed down.
Root’s actions were widely praised by those within cricket and the LGBTQ community.
Nasser Hussein, the ex-England captain, also paid tribute to Root by tweeting: “I don’t know who said what to whom .. but boy do I applaud Joe Root’s reaction here. For me his twelve words as a role model will be in the end more important than a test hundred or possible victory.”
“A wonderful and hugely important reply from Joe Root here to the sledging by Shannon Gabriel,” Owens tweeted .”Delivered with calm and dignity and with a bigger impact than hitting the ball for six. Thank you Joe Root. What a man
On Wednesday, West Indies coach Richard Pybus told the BBC he had yet to receive a report of the incident but that action would be taken if anything unsavory had happened.
“I think the fast bowlers are always going to try and impose themselves on the game,” Pybus added. “It’s always a proper tussle out there. I think it is pretty standard.
“Shannon is a proper old-school fast bowler, I think we need to find out if there is anything behind the rumors and then we’ll address it.”
This is not the first time a stump microphone has broadcast an on-field conversation that has led to controversy.