The game of cricket has never been away from racism. Just like all walks of life, the game has seen its fair share of ugly moments, tainted by rowdy cricketers who have not shied away from showing off their ugliest colors.
Whether it be in a heated moment of passion or just as a joke, cricketers have seen adequate controversies with regards to racism. Just recently, Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed was in the news for racially abusing Andile Phehlukwayo from South Africa, whereby he called him a “black guy” in Urdu. The Pakistani has been suspended for four games.
Here’s taking a look at some other instances where racism was rampant in cricket.
“Mine’s been turned down twice. I’d better black my face”
Talking about Knighted cricketers, Boycott complained at a Q&A session that these honors were handed out to West Indian cricketers like Sir Viv Richards and Curtly Ambrose like “confetti”. On the other hand, the last English cricketer to receive a Knighthood was Alec Bedser in 1997.
Even though the comment was just an off-putting way to express his displeasure, the racist undertones of the cricketer could not be ignored.
“The terrorist gets another wicket.”
The freakish incident took place in 2006 when cricketer-turned-commentator Dean Jones racially commented on Hashim Amla during South Africa’s tour of Sri Lanka. On day 4 of the Test series, Shaun Pollock had enticed Kumar Sangakkara into delivering a ball straight into the hands of Amla. As the South African team formed a huddle, the microphones picked up the comment of Dean Jones. Even though the channel cut to commercial, the comment was broadcast to everyone seeing the match.
This comment immediately cut Jones’s contract with the channel, even though he recognized his ‘mistake’ and apologized to Amla.
Monkeygate incident of 2008
“Teri Maa Ki/ Monkey.”
In the 2008 India- Australia Test series, Harbhajan Singh, after hitting a boundary, tapped bowler Brett Lee on the back with his bat and apparently said “hard luck”. Andrew Symonds walked up to him and cussed at him, and Singh replied with an oft-repeated Hindi slur, which the Australian mistook for ‘monkey.’ The issue heated up, with Australians lodging a formal complaint, and Harbhajan Singh getting banned for three matches. However, the Indian side appealed, and threatened to leave the series incomplete if the ban was not lifted. Ultimately, he ended up getting fined 50% of his match fees.
Utseya leveled racism charges against the managing director of Zimbabwe cricket, Alastair Campbell, after the 2015 World Cup. Despite being part of the team, Utseya did not play a single match. He accused Campbell of appointing white coaches and administrators. Mark Vermeulen responded to Utseya in a Facebook post, referring to black people as “apes”, and they would not have any problems “if we had left them in the bush” and Utseya might be happier if he was living “in his mud hut”. Following the tirade, Vermeulen was banned from all forms of cricket.
In the 1996 World Cup, Brian Lara was in the midst of the racism controversy when the mighty West Indian side lost to the amateurish Kenyan side. The main reason for their falling was due to the bumbling ways of Brian Lara, who had a wee bit of arrogance during the match, and merely sauntered his way through. After the defeat, the Outlook magazine ran a story about Lara visiting the Kenyan side after the match. Among other things, Lara purportedly told them
“It wasn’t that bad losing to you guys. You are black. Know what I mean. Now a team like South Africa is a different matter altogether. You know, this white thing comes into the picture. We can’t stand losing to them”
However, Lara denied the accusations, stating that in actuality, he had said
“Losing to you guys hurt badly but it wasn’t the worst day of my life. The worst was losing to South Africa in the 1992 World Cup because I realized we weren’t going to qualify for the semis.”