In his new autobiography titled Black & White, New Zealand great Ross Taylor has talked at length about the racial insensitivity of New Zealand Cricket towards players of Polynesian and Maori origin. Taylor revealed he was subjected to racially charged comments and “banters” throughout his 16-year cricketing career.
Unlike other prominent sports in the country like Rugby league or basketball, cricket falls terribly short of diversity. Taylor said how he felt an anomaly in the team dominated by white cricketers.
“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,” Taylor said.
Taylor, who is of Samoan heritage, was also mistaken by his teammates as a Maori cricketer. Kilikiti, a loose form of cricket played without any protective gear, is very popular in Samoa. Thus they already have pre-requisite skills to excel in cricket, but the lack of well-structured pathways to integrate them into a national setup has emerged as a major hindrance.
Taylor wrote that “banters” on players’ ethnicity in the dressing room were quite normal in his playing days. “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.”
Since an overwhelming majority of the Black Caps were pakeha – Maori term for fair-skinned people – there were no pushbacks. “In all probability, a (white New Zealander) listening to those sorts of comments would think Oh, that’s okay, it’s just a bit of banter,'” Taylor said.
Once at Dunedin Airport, Mike Hesson, who was the head coach of New Zealand, told Taylor that his cleaner is a Samoan. “When I came back into the team after the captaincy drama, I found myself sitting next to (coach) Mike Hesson in the Koru Lounge at Dunedin Airport.”
“He’d come straight from his house. ‘My cleaner’s Samoan,’ he said. ‘She’s a lovely lady, hard-working, very trustworthy. All I could say was, ‘Oh, cool’,” said Taylor.
Lead Image: Ross Taylor/Twitter