England captain Joe Root showed integrity and leadership in his response to a comment from West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, says former batter Ebony Rainford-Brent.
Sky Sports published a clip of Root, 28, telling Gabriel: “Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay.”
Gabriel, 30, was warned by the umpire for the language he used, though his original comment was not picked up.
“Well done Root,” said Rainford-Brent.
“We don’t know exactly what was said but what we can take from it is that whatever Joe thought he heard, his response was one of a leader.
“It’s one thing being an England captain, but having that awareness and presence in that moment to be prepared to stand up for something, that’s what’s interesting.”
Root refused to explain exactly what was said after play on day three of the final Test in St Lucia, during which the England captain hit a fine century to put his side in a commanding position.
“Players in that scenario could respond in a lot of ways and not say much,” Rainford-Brent told The Cricket Social.
“In this age of diversity and people being free to be themselves, when you have an England captain who stands up for something in the moment – and he didn’t have to respond – it was a point that he wanted to make and it was really powerful.
“He showed his integrity and belief – it was really impressive from Root.”
Former Surrey player Rainford-Brent, 35, said it showed “the sort of person” Root is and the “character he has deep down”.
“Banter and aggression can be fine but you can’t cross a boundary – stuff that is disrespectful, like homophobia – and things like that need to be taken up,” she added.
“If it is a homophobic comment, it needs to be investigated and taken further.”
Former England captain Alastair Cook said that comments about race and sexuality are “no-go areas”.
“If it is a homophobic comment, Gabriel has crossed the line,” he said.
“You know the responsibility when you represent your country but we are all humans. He’s said something which – we think – is totally unacceptable and unfortunately he must be punished for it.”