Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding said that if England’s rookie pacer Ollie Robinson, who was suspended after his debut at Lord’s against New Zealand over historical racist and sexist tweets, has changed his ways then the England and Wales Cricket Board should not come down too hard on him.

Robinson’s international career is on hold after last week’s successful Test debut against New Zealand pending an ECB investigation into social media messages he posted in 2012 and 2013.

“If he has done something like that nine years ago, and since then he has learnt and he has done nothing like that and he has changed his ways in recent years, then I don’t think you should come down too hard on him,” the legendary fast bowler, who is part of the broadcast team in England for the New Zealand Test series, told Sky Sports.

“Yes, suspend him because you want to investigate. You don’t allow him to continue playing, like on Thursday, while an investigation is going on at the same time, because if you find out things that are horrible coming out in that investigation. But do it quickly, let’s get it over with quickly.”

Holding said he did not see why a player should be punished for something they did a decade or more ago, if they have rectified their ways in more recent times, calling for second chances in such a case.

“Because I was a young man once, I did a lot of rubbish as a youngster, and as you go through life you learn and recognise ‘Oh, perhaps what I did at 18 doesn’t apply now, I can’t behave like that now’,” he added.

The issue is overshadowing the action on the pitch, with the ECB becoming aware of a second unidentified player posting “historic offensive material” on social media and even an intervention from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

James Anderson, who will win a record 162nd cap if he is selected for the second Test against New Zealand, which starts at Edgbaston on Thursday, said Robinson had apologised for the tweets.

“Yes, we do make mistakes, everyone does and as people, we’ve got to try to improve and make sure this sort of stuff doesn’t happen and make sure people are aware it’s not acceptable,” said the Lancashire quick.

“(Robinson) stood up in front of the group and apologised and you can see how sincere he was, and how upset he was.

“I think as a group, we’ve appreciated that he’s a different person now. He’s done a lot of maturing and growing since then and he’s got the full support of the team.”

(With AFP inputs)