Former England batsman Mark Ramprakash has hit out at Prime Minster Boris Johnson becoming involved in the Ollie Robinson suspension fall-out.
Robinson has hit the headlines after historical tweets emerged on the day he made his England Test debut against New Zealand at Lord’s last week.
Prime Minster Johnson agreed with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden’s assessment that the suspension of England seamer Robinson from all international cricket was “over the top”.
Robinson, 27, issued an apology for historical racist and sexist tweets he posted in 2012 and 2013, when he was in his late teens, and has been suspended pending a disciplinary investigation by the England and Wales Cricket Board, which drew a surprising rebuke from Secretary of State Dowden, who waded into the matter on Monday morning.
While Dowden acknowledged Robinson’s tweets were “offensive and wrong”, he added they “are also a decade old and written by a teenager”.
Dowden said: “The teenager is now a man and has rightly apologised. The ECB has gone over the top by suspending him and should think again.”
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said afterwards: “As Oliver Dowden set out, these were comments made more than a decade ago, written by someone as a teenager, and for which they have rightly apologised.”
But speaking to BBC Breakfast, Ramprakash, who played 52 Tests for England before moving into coaching, said: “I’ve heard people express sort of sympathy with Ollie Robinson in his situation and sort of say things like ‘hasn’t he shown a lot of character?’.
“But actually, I have not heard enough about the victims, the people these tweets are aimed at. How do they feel? They are UK citizens, a lot of them.
“We live in a diverse society, and we really don’t want this behaviour.
“In actual fact, there is a real irony isn’t there with our Prime Minister getting involved. I think it’s unwelcome.
“I think he is trying to bear undue influence in this case. If I was Ollie Robinson, I am not sure I would want Boris Johnson involved and trying to support me.”
The ECB, meanwhile, is looking into claims a second England player posted “historic offensive material”, just a day after the governing body suspended Robinson.
Wisden.com has unearthed a tweet, publishing its content but concealing the alleged England cricketer’s identity because he was under the age of 16 at the time.
The ECB said in a statement: “It has been brought to our attention that an England player has posted historic offensive material on their social media account.
“We are looking into it and will make a further comment in due course.”
The ECB declined to comment when asked about Dowden’s remarks.
While Robinson said he was “embarrassed” and “ashamed” of his past tweets, he has been stood down from the second and final Test against New Zealand at Edgbaston, which gets under way on Thursday.