'A brown face in a vanilla line-up': Ross Taylor reveals facing racism in New Zealand cricket through his autobiography

IANSUpdated: Friday, August 12, 2022, 03:27 PM IST
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Ross Taylor | File picture

Former New Zealand cricketer Ross Taylor on Thursday has revealed the accounts of racism in New Zealand cricket through his autobiography.

In his autobiography titled 'Ross Taylor Black & White', Taylor described that cricket in New Zealand was "a pretty white sport" and he experienced racism inside dressing rooms which was termed "banter".

An anomaly

"Cricket in New Zealand is a pretty white sport. For much of my career I've been an anomaly, a brown face in a vanilla line-up. That has its challenges, many of which aren't readily apparent to your teammates or the cricketing public.

"Given that the Polynesian community is dramatically under-represented in the game, it's probably no surprise that people sometimes assume I'm Maori or Indian," wrote Taylor in an extract of the autobiography published in the New Zealand Herald.

Studying racism

"Having studied racism in the media at university as part of a sports degree, Victoria probably noticed things that many others didn't. For instance, it used to upset her that my bad shots were often put down to "brain explosions" or "dumb cricket" whereas other players' bad shots were "lapses in concentration" or "poor shot selection", or excused on the basis that, "Well, that's the way he plays," added Taylor.

Taylor had retired from international cricket in April this year, featuring for the side in 112 Tests, 236 ODIs and 102 T20Is. He is of Samoan heritage from his mother's side while his father is from New Zealand.

"In many ways, dressing-room banter is the barometer. A teammate used to tell me, "You're half a good guy, Ross, but which half is good? You don't know what I'm referring to." I was pretty sure I did. Other players also had to put up with comments that dwelt on their ethnicity."

"In all probability, a Pakeha listening to those sorts of comments would think, "Oh, that's okay, it's just a bit of banter." But he's hearing it as white person and it's not directed at people like him. So, there's no pushback; no one corrects them.

"Then the onus falls on the targets. You wonder if you should pull them up but worry that you'll create a bigger problem or be accused of playing the race card by inflating harmless banter into racism. It's easier to develop a thick skin and let it slide, but is that the right thing to do?"

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