England captain Joe Root suggested West Indies bowler Shannon Gabriel said something he “might regret” during an on-field exchange in the third Test.
Root appeared to tell Gabriel “there’s nothing wrong with being gay” while batting on day three in St Lucia, with the comments apparently picked up on television via the stump microphone.
Gabriel’s part of the conversation did not seem to be audible but Press Association Sport understands the Trinidadian paceman was spoken to by at least one of the on-field umpires, Kumar Dharmasena and Rod Tucker, about his language.
Whether the match referee Jeff Crowe deems the incident worthy of further attention remains to be seen, while West Indies head coach Richard Pybus promised to take further action “if it was untoward”.
Root enjoyed a fine day at the crease, scoring a 16th Test century and finishing 111 not out as England built a lead of 448 runs – but after leaving the field was asked to explain the tussle with Gabriel.
Speaking in measured terms, he said: “It’s Test cricket, he’s an emotional guy trying to do everything he can to win a Test match…sometimes people say things on the field that they might regret, but they should stay on the field.
“He’s a good guy who plays hard cricket and is proud to be in the position he is. The battle was a good contest, he’s had a wonderful series and he should be proud.”
Pybus was unaware of any potential controversy at close of play but told BBC’s Test Match Special: “Nothing has been reported to me but if a comment was made we’ll review it and if it was untoward we’ll be addressing it.”
Root would probably rather reflect on his efforts with the bat, having steered his side towards their best total of a disappointing series.
Their score of 325 for four sets them up perfectly to push for a victory, ending their Test winter on a high after successive defeats and averting a 3-0 whitewash.
The England skipper had struggled with his team, scoring 55 runs in his previous five innings in this series, before hitting form at the Darren Sammy Stadium.
“It’s been a tough series for me personally and for the guys so to respond as we have today and be in this position of strength with two days left is really pleasing,” he said.
“It was a good hard scrap for most of it which was really enjoyable because sometimes when things aren’t quite happening for you you think you’re battling a little bit. To come out the other side and be able to say you’re not out at the end of the day is really pleasing.”
Root also offered a word of praise for Joe Denly, who survived a drop on 12 to post a fluent 69 in his second Test appearance.
“He played beautifully I thought,” said Root. “I thought he played with good balance, good style and grace – as you’d expect him to when he gets runs. He should have a lot of confidence with the way he played.”