Ross Taylor, a legendary cricketer from New Zealand who retired from international play earlier this year, published his book on Thursday. Taylor discussed instances of prejudice he encountered during his playing career in the book “Black & White.” He mentioned how it would come up in locker room conversation as well as in remarks from some staff members and executives. He made a point of saying that he was aware that the remarks weren’t made from a “racist perspective,” but rather out of “insensitivity” and a lack of empathy.
Ross Taylor is part of the Samoan tribe of New Zealand that is indigenous to the island nation.
The excerpt from his book read, “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.”
He also takes some big names from New Zealand cricket describing racially insensitive incidents that happened to him. The big names included former New Zealand cricket manager Mike Sandle and former coach Mike Hesson.
“Not long after Mike ‘Roman’ Sandle became Black Caps manager, he said to Victoria (Taylor’s wife) that, when he was manager of the Blues rugby team, he’d observed that the Maori and Island boys struggled with managing money, ‘so if Ross wants to talk about it …’ Victoria laughed it off, and it probably didn’t take Mike long to realise that, however well-meaning, he’d been a bit hasty in his assumptions,” he wrote.
He narrated an incident with Mike Hesson, “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’.”
He further explained, “ Let me be clear: I don’t think for one minute that they were coming from a racist perspective. I think they were insensitive and lacked the imagination and empathy to put themselves in the other person’s shoes.”
An NZC spokesperson expressed their disappointment in these incidents and issued a statement that “NZC deplores racism, is a staunch supporter of the NZ Human Rights Commission’s ‘Give Nothing to Racism’ campaign, and is deeply disappointed Ross has been exposed to this type of behaviour. We’ll definitely reach out to Ross to discuss the matter.”