COMMENTARY: Shannon Gabriel – Brute Of A Smile


By Rawlston Pompey

When renowned cricket commentator Tony Cozier described an unplayable ball as a ‘…Brute of a Delivery,’ it was usually one that had batsmen in all sorts of difficulties. Invariably, it was short-pitched and on a pitch with uneven bounce, batsmen were more inclined to take evasive action than scoring runs. Had he been alive today, with a chuckle and smile, he most certainly would have described English cricket captain Joe Root 28, smile to a West Indian fast bowler as a ‘…Brute of a Smile.’ Even with bat in hand, in the mind of a West Indian fast bowler, it may have been a smile intended to score anything else, but runs. The person he may have seen as having trouble with the ‘…Captain’s Smile’ would have been Trinidad and West Indies fast bowler, Shannon Gabriel 30. Thus, as with a deceptive look, a smile, whether coy or sheepish, radiant or infectious or otherwise provocatively suggestive, even when the intentions are unclear, it could arouse suspicion, trigger feelings of animosity, as to provoke an inquisition or hostile reactions.


While boxers psyched themselves up and sought to inject fear in the hearts of opponents, respecting the game of cricket, no team needs to psyche itself up. They shall always be prepared, mentally and physically ready. Similarly, no bowler needs to boast of his ‘…strength; …speed; …length and direction, and no batsman needs to speak to his batting techniques.’ These are to be seen by the cricketer holding the ball or the bat and on the field of play. The game itself involves the commentators’ description of what obtains on the field-of-play, and as it happened. These phrases include inter alia, ‘…scintillating r marvelous strokes; or …glorious shots; …magnificent cover drives; …spectacular hooks, run-outs, catches and stumping; …unbelievable tumbling and diving saves.’ Then when the ball is airborne ‘…Going! …Going! Gone!


All eyes are therefore, focused on the quick bowlers and batsmen.’ Cricket enthusiasts and followers may recall the most destructive pacemen; ‘…Wesley Hall and Charlie Griffith; and the fearsome quartet of ‘…Malcolm Marshall; …Michael Holding; …Joel Garner and Collin Croft; and other speedsters ‘…Sirs Anderson ‘Andy’ Roberts and Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.’ In their heyday, they have delivered ‘…Brute of Deliveries.’ In spite of team-work, though the batsmen often make the game exciting or dull, the pace men are usually the ones that make the game exciting. There is ‘…extraordinary fast bowling.’ On improperly prepared pitches, there is no batting paradise.This is pronounced by rapidity of ‘…fiery, uneven-bounced unplayable rib-cage deliveries.’ Then when batsmen were unable to take evasive action, they had taken ‘…a battering; …bruising or flattening.’ Likened to an injured footballer, injured batsmen are given a ‘…stretchered-or piggy-back ride to the pavilion.’Then there is the processional fall of wickets, which invariably saw the game culminated in ‘…fingernail-biting finishes.


 This commentary however, is not about the descriptive phrases often used by commentators and heard by millions of people around the world- enthusiasts; …fans and followers.’ Those who would have heard these regularly would have been the ‘…English Army Balmy.’ They have pride themselves in following their teams across the globe, lending moral support. At the same time they would have been having fun in the sun-drenched places where ‘…Five-day tests; …50 overs and Twenty/20 Cricket Matches’ are played. This commentary speaks to (a) ‘… a smile: (b) …two curious questions; (c) …a response; (d) …a capturing microphone; (e) …disciplinary action; and (f) …suspension of a player.’ While organizational discipline precludes behavior seen as an affront to human dignity, and a certain minority grouping abhors the player’s behavior as offensive, members of the Christian community and wider society not so disposed to certain lifestyle, saw the punishment imposed upon Shannon Gabriel as bordering ‘…severity.’ In spite of such view, that is another way of reinforcing good discipline, be it at home, in sport or in the wider society.


For some people, even a ‘…Smile’ could make them feel uncomfortable, edgy and unhappy. Shannon Gabriel, a West Indian cricketer and fast bowler and Joe Root, Captain of the touring English cricket team shares no socialized commonality of interest, other than cricket. Though not condoning the clearly insensitive behavior, former West Indies cricketer Ian Bishop argued that his punishment was on the ‘…harsher side’ [Reuters: February 15, 2019]. In every sport, contact or otherwise, there has been ‘…Gender Warfare.’ While persons may determine who might be idolized, no person shall be ‘…despised; …criticized; …chastised; …demonized; …stigmatized; …victimized; …ostracized or brutalized,’ for loving or being themselves. This was a point made by social commentator, Michael Osuana ‘Sugar Aloes.’ Comparing him to fellow-calypsonian ‘Baron,’ he sings ‘…Baron likes plenty Indians; …But I like nice things; …And I am being friendly; …Yes, it makes me happy; …I am just being me’ [Song: I Love Being Me: You Tube].


It was not clear what Joe Root liked, but according to fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, ‘…He was smiling at me’ [Reuters: February 15, 2019]. Though they may have been encountering each other for the very first time, both Shannon Gabriel and Joe Root are from two ‘…Different Cultures.’ One, where there is intolerance to certain orientation, persuasion or preference to trending lifestyle, while the other embraces a lifestyle under the guise of ‘…human rights and equality.’ Even with existing ‘…homophobic laws,’ most of the nations within the Caribbean are guided by a constitutional framework that not only speaks to a ‘…Supreme Law,’ but also several constitutional principles upon which the nations were founded. These include ‘…Acknowledgement of the supremacy of God’ [ANU: CO: Principle A]. Though none may claim to be a ‘…paragon of virtue,’ most of the region’s people are guided by scriptural teaching that warns ‘…If a man lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both have committed an abomination and shall be put to death’[KJV: Leviticus 20: 13]. Some nations have rejected this teaching and warning.


The people not only pride themselves as men and women in a ‘…Christian Society,’ but also the majority holds high regard for their nation’s laws, particularly laws restricting abnormal and unlawful sexual acts- rape; …incest; …sexual intercourse with minors; …Gross indecency and a particular act the scriptures declare as an abomination unto God.’ Naturally, so scripturally edified, cultured and holding such belief, with such (i) …acknowledgement of supremacy; (ii) …enjoyment of freedom of conscience; and (iii) …recognizing and accepting that laws shall be restrictive as to control aggression or the unpredictable nature of man and his behavior.’ Most have not only found certain behavioral exhibition abnormal or advances unusual, but also reprehensible, offensive and outrageous.


Irrespective of the type of sport, it has been part of human nature in taunting, teasing or provoking opponents. In the field of boxing, legendary boxing champion Mohammad Ali had used it skillfully, yet sometimes interspersed with derogatory remarks to opponents. In modern times, the money-taunting and boastful Floyd Mayweather Jr, known for his loose, obnoxious, callous and reckless comments, has been placed in a category all by himself. In the glory days, it was ‘…Cricket! ‘..Lovely cricket! …Exciting Cricket! From this view point, though a competitive sport, it also speaks to combat between bat and ball; …bowler and batsmen or cricketer and cricketer. Then there is the conflict between personalities. It often involved a ‘…War of Words.’ Among cricketers, they have called it ‘…Sledging.’ In active combat, warmongers have called it ‘…Psychological Warfare.’


It has been repetitively said that cricket is a game of ‘…Glorious Uncertainties’ [former commentator Tony Cozier]. This is premised on the fluctuating fortunes of a team. On the one hand, having the upper hand of its opponent, then with a processional fall of wickets, the game often tilted in favor of the opponent. Then as wickets tumbled, the fan-base grumbled. Anxieties and tension then stepped in as cricket captains and their teams are overwhelmed. They are hoping that a stubborn batsman makes a false stroke or a bowler got a well-pitched ball that may uproot stumps or remove bails or nicked an edge through the slip-cordon, or beaten for pace, the officiating Umpire may raise the dreaded index finger confirming a ‘Leg before Wicket’ (LBW) dismissal. Players become agitated and the will is weakened. Then as ‘…Tolerance Ebbed Low,’ they taunted and charged each other. They are ready to engage themselves in a fist fight. Before this, there is a war of words. Invariably, the situation developed into friction. A cricket bat or a stump is ready to be used by those that felt that it might be time to end the charade. Today, the game is played completely on ‘…Rules of Play’ and a Code of Conduct.


After two heavy defeats at the hands of the West Indies Cricket Team, the English team rebounded, drubbing the host to lose the near one-sided Series 2-1. The significant feature was the ‘…humiliating 232-run defeat inside four days’ [St. Lucia: February 13-17, 2019]. Then marring the Series and spirit of the game were allegations of ‘…Unprovoked Sledging.’ A smile intend for one cricketer and ‘…two searching questions, described as ‘…homophobic or gay slur,’ and a spontaneous response have seen West Indies pacer Shannon Gabriel 30, incurring the ‘…Disciplinary Wrath’ of the International Cricket Council (ICC). He was not only suspended from playing in any of the four One Day International cricket matches between the English cricket team currently on tour in the Caribbean, but also suffered penalties of 75% match fee and demerit points for ‘…abusive behavior.’ In fact, though annoyingly inappropriate, he had only posed two questions to his opponent; one polite, and the other impolite.


The ‘…Governing Body’ ensured that the rules were stringently applied and that offending cricketers are dealt with expeditiously. On the field-of- play, Umpires shall enforce the Rules as circumstances dictate or as situations demand. Even so, they shall be impartial, fair and just, as their decisions could either be adverse or advantageous to the contesting teams. Invariably, dependent where the game was being played, a team may have thirteen in numbers, (i) …the picked 11-members; (ii) …the 12th man; and (iii) …the officiating umpires.’


The advent of, and introduction of technology to the game, has made it somewhat easy for officiating Umpires. For instance, that which had often escaped the human eyes or ears, can easily be picked up by a camera positioned to capture what may have transpired on the field-of- play, either with bat and ball and wickets or between  players. Then there are ‘…Third Umpires’ to see what the standing umpires had missed or cared not to see or feigned not to have seen. He is aided by technology with a ‘…microphone strategically installed behind the stumps.’  This ‘…Technological Innovation’ captures both sounds and expressions. With the aid of such technology, research has shown that several cricketers had been penalized for ‘…non sportsman-like conduct.’ These range from gestures to inappropriate or foul expressions to dissent of decisions not favourable to cricketers or their teams. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has published a litany of offences and names of ‘…Bad Boy Cricketers’ at its website.


Equally as much, match umpires are ready to act decisively, warning Captains and players alike of the inevitability of consequences that are constantly looming. Not only was the home team’s crushing defeat sent fans almost into a frenzy, but personal trouble started when the England Captain Joe Root reportedly flashed what appeared to have been viewed as ‘…an Unwelcomed Smile’ at the apparent physically fit Shannon Gabriel. Likened to a cat being overly curious, the pace bowler admittedly asked, ‘…Why are you smiling at me? …Do you like boys?  In an apparent spontaneous response, the ‘smiling Captain’ was reported as saying ‘…Don’t take this as an insult, but there is nothing wrong with being gay’ [Reuters: February 15, 2019].


 Cricketers showing reckless abandon are often cited for either doing or saying the wrong things. It was obvious that the fast bowler may have confused himself with the field-of- play and what may be obtained in ‘…an All Male,’ Night Club? Whatever may have operated in his mind, Cricket’s governing body, the ‘International Cricket Council (ICC)’ promptly intervened, unhesitatingly and admirably expedited the matter and decisively dealt with the offending cricketer. In understanding the reasons for the ‘…Disciplinary action and Suspension’ of the fast bowler, it necessitates clear understanding of the ‘…ICC Code of Conduct’ for international cricketers. The ‘ICC’ has made it sufficiently clear that its Code of Conduct ‘…is part of its continuing efforts to maintain the public image, popularity and integrity of cricket, by providing ‘…An effective means to deter any participant from conducting themselves improperly on and off the field of play or in any manner that is contrary to the spirit of cricket.’


More importantly, is its ‘…Disciplinary Machinery’ that speaks to a particularly ‘…robust disciplinary procedure pursuant to which all matters of improper conduct can be dealt with fairly, with certainty and in an expeditious manner’ [ICC Website].As it affects organizational discipline, with the leadership of a certain Police Service ‘…dangling like a participle,’ this might be particularly helpful to a Police Service  Commission (PSC) that appears to be harboring a belief that ‘…robust and expeditious handling of disciplinary matters’ means the dangling suspension of a Police Commissioner for 10 months [ANR: April 5, 2018], with dangling uncertainties over the head of ‘…an acting Commissioner with no apparent determination or end in sight.’


Dependent upon the ‘…Mood of Man’ or his intention, if an end satisfies a means, man continues to use various ploys to achieve his objectives. As with the ‘…Kiss of Deception’ planted on the cheek of Jesus Christ by Judas Iscariot [Luke 22:47], a ‘…Smile to a Cricketer,’ could easily be given a meaning of something not considered or intended. Judas was up to something that scriptural teaching edifies as an act of treachery. In a general sense, a smile is more welcomed than a frown of animosity.  In modern society, a smile is considered to be for no other reasons than mutual respect, appreciation or an acknowledgement. However, a male flashing a smile to another male,’ based on current trend or lifestyle could incur the wrath of man. For such smile could communicate messages not intended. This may have been the experiences of ‘…England’s Captain Joe Root and West Indies pace-man Shannon Gabriel.’


It was not clear, nor was it reported that Shannon Gabriel had intimidated the England Captain with a fiery spell of fast bowling. For the purposes of his selection to lead his team, with a cricket bat in hand, he may have countered such bowling with magnificent stroke-play. Many may recall the experiences of former West Indies star batsman Sir Vivian Isaac Alexander Richards. Having been persistently peppered with rib-cage bouncers by the fearsome twinned- Australian fast bowlers ‘…Jeff Thompson and Dennis Lillee, whose clear intention was ‘…Battering and Bruising.’ Instead of running, frowning or wincing, he reportedly acknowledged their ferocious deliveries and terror tactics, not only with pleasantries and smiles, but also accepted them as all part of the game of cricket. It was not clear or reported that Shannon Gabriel had bowled a fiery spell at the England Captain, who may have countered with magnificent stroke-play.


In professional law enforcement training, personnel are told that they should ‘…always keep an open mind.’ The simple reason for this is that investigative personnel could miss a whole lot if they harbor ‘…pre-conceived ideas.’ Such ideas had often led to poor investigative results, particularly when the focus was placed upon an innocent suspect. Invariably, this has led some investigators that harbor ideas in their minds that often threw them completely of the investigative track. Thus, the innocent and truthful are often not believed and the wrong lead or person is pursued, while the guilty perpetrator escaped pursuit and/or detection. Prosecutorially, since it is never known what answers might be given, prosecutors know that certain questions, where it is not particularly ambiguous, shall be left to the Court.


 It was clear from Joe Root’s response to the question posed by Shannon Gabriel, what may have prompted the ‘…Inquisitive Question.’ Since he may have been in no mood to ‘…accept, return or give a smile to anyone not capable of making distinction to his gender, he may also have been psychologically disoriented over Joe Root’s smile. Conversely, he may have been prepared to ‘…accept a smile from any female player or otherwise. Likened to dashing Jamaica and West Indies batsman Christopher ‘Chris’ Gale, he may have preferred an off-the-field rendezvous with any female reporter who would have been entertained by the mesmerizing spectacle of ‘…his on-field stroke-play.’ Seemingly, while he may have been ‘sledging’ and Joe Root may have been smiling, the England team was tightening the noose around the neck of the West Indies team, resulting in one of the heaviest defeats ever inflicted on the home team.


It was not clear what may have made Shannon Gabriel believed that English Captain Joe Root may have been ‘…Smile-Stalking’ him (coined for this commentary).In his explanation, he admitted asking two searching questions, (i) ‘…Why are you smiling at me? The second vexing, if not ludicrously provocative question has been, ‘…Do you like boys? Whether spontaneously or psychologically prepared, he appeared to have surprised him with the equally baffling answer, ‘…Don’t take it as an insult there is nothing wrong in being gay.’ Such may have confirmed Shannon Gabriel’s suspicion or reinforced a harbored belief that failing to bowl straight, a loose ball could have seen him being hooked off the field-of-play.


Depending upon what a man or woman was thinking when a ‘…Smile’ was inappropriately flashed in their eyes and into the brain, bad signals or wrong signals are often misinterpreted. Conversely, a frown on the face could also tell someone that they shall stay clear of a person exhibiting it. Now, drawing reasonable inferences from his explanation and ‘…Joe Root’s Response,’ it was obvious that the English Captain then/batting at the wicket intended to score much more than runs off his bowling. However, whether in a practice session or in the test match, given his physical stature, bowling speed, concentration and direction, Joe Root’s middle stump may have been quicker uprooted than he would have been given an opportunity to hook the apparent ‘…straight-bowling Shannon Gabriel’ to any other place than the on-field boundary.


The apparent overly curious Shannon Gabriel may have learned from the ‘…inquisitive masseuse Leanne Russell’ [Canberra Times: February 2015] who reportedly wandered into ‘…Chris Gale’s Locker room in search either of a towel or a sandwich,’ but alleged that the cricketer had flashed her that which had made her frowned and cried. Surely, had she gone to Slinger Francisco ‘Mighty Sparrow,’ he may have given her ‘…$2, 000 for a sandwich and a coffee’ [Lying Excuses: You Tube]. She may have been smilingly happy. Given hisexplanation of what had actually transpired on the field-of-play, ‘…a smile’ and apparent misconceived thoughts of what it meant or connotes, appeared to have prompted the ‘…controversial question,’ resulting furor and extensive media coverage that appeared to have made him a ‘…suspicious trouble-maker.’ Even so, it was an apparently ‘…Misinterpreted Smile’ that had cramped the fast bowler’s style, sidelining him for the upcoming One Day International Series.


As the furor continues and international agencies sought to exert influence upon the region’s people, the great majority appears steadfast in their ‘…conscience; …beliefs and convictions’ that sexual conduct or behavior that appear smack of abnormality, it has no place in their respective nations. Most have given the impression that their beliefs and resolve are galvanized in the founding constitutional principle that ‘…acknowledges the Supremacy of God.’ According to Joe Root’s apparent lifestyle philosophy, while there may have been ‘…Nothing wrong in being gay,’ in the eyes of the ‘ICC’ and other interest groups, it was certainly not right to ask him about it on the field-of-play. Clearly, whatever may have been known of, or heard about English Cricket Captain,’ may not only have aroused suspicion in the mind of  the West Indian fast bowler, but may also have allowed his imagination to derail his thoughts and expressions. Thus, given the governing body’s ‘…resolve and robustness’ in maintaining strict disciplinary control on ‘…loose cannon cricketers,’ many now know that likened to that which has killed cats, ‘…human inquisitiveness’ also has consequences for those that allow their imaginations to lead them down a slippery road to destruction. If only for information, homophobic cricketers may wish to guide their suspicions, curiosity and expressions from a ‘…Press Conference’ previously held by former United States President William Bill Clinton on the vexed issue of ‘…Gays in the Military’ [February 27, 2009: You Tube]. Moreover, on the field-of-play, likened to a delivery bowled wide of off-stump, suspicious smiles shall be left alone.

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  1. I maintain that Gabriel should have nothing to say to Root knowing what he knew. Not saying it is right or wrong but knowing how the world turns nowadays let sleeping dogs lie…. Who i suffering the backlash of the statement or the reaction that caused the man to feel discriminated against… Of all the gangsters in America that used to sing rap music… Can you recall any of them saying bun batty man? no … and a lot of them are in Forbes list as the most wealthy in the showbiz….. We need to pick our fights carefully is my tupence on the issue.

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