After a four-match suspension for his sledge during the St Lucia Test against Joe Root, Shannon Gabriel offers unconditional apology revealing what he said which prompted the England captain to reply “there is nothing wrong with being gay.”

In a statement, shared on Twitter by former West Indies cricketer Daren Ganga, Gabriel admitted his comments were offensive, a fact he didn’t realise at the time.

“To my team-mates and members of the England team, especially their captain Joe Root, I extend an unreserved apology for a comment which in the context of on-the-field rivalry, I assumed was inoffensive picong and sporting banter. I know now that it was offensive and I am deeply sorry.

“A number of friends and well-wishers have reached out to me, anxious to offer their support and to enquire about exactly what happened. I think I owe it to them and to all supporters of West Indies cricket to provide an accurate record of what happened,” he wrote in the statement.

Gabriel further added: “The exchange occurred during a tense moment on the field. 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?’ His response, which was picked up by the microphone, was: ‘Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay.’ I then responded: ‘I have no issues with that, but you should stop smiling at me.’”

The incident took place at the end of the 44th over of England’s second innings in the third Test, when Gabriel was bowling to the opposition skipper Joe Root. TV footage shared on Twitter showed Root responding to a comment from Gabriel by saying: “Don’t use it as an isnult. There is nothing wrong with being gay.”

The pacer was warned for using abusive language by the on-field umpires, Rod Tucker and Kumar Dharmasena and was subsequently charged with a Level 2 offence under article 2.13 of the ICC’s Code of Conduct, covering “personal abuse”.

Root had refused to divulge it as well in the post-day media interaction. “Sometimes things are said on the field but they should stay on the field,” said Root. “I think they can sometimes be caught in the moment and not always say what you want to say or think you’re saying. I think you should leave it there.”

Gabriel also added: “I am comforted by the fact that there are no hard feelings between us.”