Ollie Robinson on Friday night admitted he feared he would never play for England again after the revelation that he posted racist and sexist tweets.
After taking his maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket, in only his second Test, Robinson spoke for the first time about the furore surrounding offensive messages he sent between 2012 and 2014, when he was aged 18 to 20.
The tweets were exposed during Robinson’s first Test for England, against New Zealand in June, and led to him being barred from cricket for the duration of an investigation by the England & Wales Cricket Board. He was eventually banned for eight matches, five of them suspended.
He now admits he thought he would not be picked by England again, and called the experience “the toughest few weeks of my life”.
“Yes I had doubts over my career but luckily it all came good today,” Robinson said. “There was a time I was speaking with my lawyers and we were looking at the fact I could be banned for a couple of years and never play for England – because that would have taken me up to the age of 30 and someone else could have come in and taken my spot.
“It was tough. Probably the toughest few weeks I’ve had in cricket to be honest, or in my life actually.
“It affected not only myself but my family and obviously I’ve learned a lot since that. I didn’t really realise the media scrutiny on Test cricket. But I’ve learned a lot and now I’m looking to move forward.”
Robinson has since been on a social media course and is doing an ongoing personal education programme with the Professional Cricketers’ Association. He also plans to work with the PCA and speak to rookie players about his experiences.
“I’m a different person now,” he said. “I was a young 18-year-old naïve guy and I made a lot of mistakes, not just those tweets. I have grown as a person a lot in that time. I had negative press when I got sacked from Yorkshire as well. I have learned a lot and tried to develop myself as a person in the last ten years. I am a father now as well and I have just tried to make myself the best person I can be and I hope people will be able to see that.”
Robinson praised the support he received from the England team when the historic tweets were unveiled.
“I know everyone with England was very good, they did put their arm around me and helped me through a tough situation. I also knew what I did on the field wouldn’t affect our relationships. It was important for me to show everyone that I am the real deal on the field and try to get the scrutiny off me.”
After taking seven wickets in the match against New Zealand at Lord’s, Robinson took 5-85 against India at Trent Bridge, leading England off the field. But India were still able to score 278, a first innings lead of 95, before England reached 25-0 when rain led to an early curtailment of the third day.
During his spells, Robinson was involved in a series of verbal confrontations with India’s batsmen, notably KL Rahul, who top scored with 84, though the clashes appeared to be in good spirit.
“It was all friendly banter, we were just trying to get them out of their bubble,” Robinson said. “They were batting well, pretty defensive. I was trying to get KL to play some shots against us. It was all good fun.”