Cricketer Shannon Gabriel asked Joe Root: ‘Do you like boys?’

Shannon Gabriel of West Indies gestures as he plays against Joe Root's England on day 1 of the 3rd and final Test between West Indies and England at Darren Sammy Cricket Ground, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, on February 09, 2019

West Indies cricketer Shannon Gabriel has revealed that he prompted a telling-off from England captain Joe Root by asking him: “Why are you smiling at me? Do you like boys?”

The bowler was rebuked by Root for the remarks, with the England player widely praised for telling him: “Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay,” during Tuesday’s (February 12) test match.

Gabriel has accepted a four-game ban from the International Cricket Council for his comments, as well as a fine of 75 percent of his match fee, according to BBC Sport.

Shannon Gabriel apologises for anti-gay remarks

In a statement released by former West Indies cricketer Daren Ganga on Wednesday (February 14), Gabriel offered “an unreserved apology” to his teammates and England players for the comments.

He wrote that he had assumed that kind of language was “sporting banter,” but has since learned his lesson.

“I know now that it was offensive and for that I am deeply sorry,” wrote Gabriel.

“The exchange occurred during a tense moment on the field,” he explained.

“The pressure was on and England’s captain Joe Root was looking at me intensely as I prepared to bowl, which may have been the usual psychological strategy with which all test cricketers are familiar.

“I recognise now that I was attempting to break through my own tension when I said to Joe Root: ‘Why are you smiling at me? Do you like boys?'”

After Root’s reprimand, which was picked up by on-pitch microphones, the West Indies bowler said he responded: “I have no issues with that, but you should stop smiling at me.”

Shannon Gabriel of the West Indies with Joe Root of England following England's victory during Day Four of the Third Test match between the West Indies and England at Darren Sammy Cricket Ground on February 12, 2019 in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

Shannon Gabriel and Joe Root shook hands after the match (Shaun Botterill/Getty)

Gabriel added: “Joe Root and I have since spoken and I am comforted by the fact that there are no hard feelings between us. I think it is fair to say that neither of us ever expected the issue to escalate to the point that it has.

“Nonetheless, I embrace this as a learning experience and as an opportunity for myself and all athletes to recognise the need for sensitivity and respect in their interactions with all.”

The teams were playing in Saint Lucia, where anyone found guilty of having gay sex can face up to 10 years in prison.

Joe Root said he told Shannon Gabriel off as it was “right”

Root explained to The Guardian on Tuesday (February 12) that he called out Gabriel’s comments because “as a player, you feel you have responsibilities to uphold on the field.”

The England star added: “I stand by what I did. I just did what I thought was right. It felt appropriate to act how I did.”

Root was commended for his on-field remarks by Stonewall‘s director of sport Kirsty Clarke, who told PinkNews: “Tackling offensive language is a crucial part of helping LGBT people feel welcome in sport.

“Language is really influential and it’s great Joe Root stepped up to challenge abusive comments.”