NZ cricket great Ross Taylor drops racism bombshell in new book

·4-min read
Ross Taylor's new autobiography has lifted the lid on his experiences with racism during his New Zealand cricket career. Pic: Getty
Ross Taylor's new autobiography has lifted the lid on his experiences with racism during his New Zealand cricket career. Pic: Getty

New Zealand cricket great Ross Taylor has lifted the lid on his experiences of racism during his playing days with the national side.

Taylor - who last year called time on his glittering 16-year career in New Zealand cricket - made the racism allegations in a new autobiography released on Thursday.

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In the book titled 'Black & White', Taylor describes racist locker room "banter" and casually racist comments from unnamed New Zealand team officials.

The Kiwi cricket icon - who is of Samoan heritage - says the colour of his skin saw him frequently treated differently in what he describes as a predominantly "white sport" in New Zealand.

New Zealand great Ross Taylor retired from international cricket in December 2021 after a 16-year career with the Black Caps. Pic: Getty
New Zealand great Ross Taylor retired from international cricket in December 2021 after a 16-year career with the Black Caps. Pic: Getty

"Cricket in New Zealand is a pretty white sport," Taylor writes in the book.

"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."

The 38-year-old said many people assumed he was of Maori or Indian heritage because Pacific Island representation in New Zealand cricket is so rare. He said locker room banter sometimes was racist and hurtful but he was concerned that raising the issue might make the situation worse.

"In many ways dressing-room banter is the barometer," Taylor writes.

Ross Taylor, pictured here with wife Victoria and their children after his final ODI for New Zealand.
Ross Taylor with wife Victoria and their children after his final ODI for New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

"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 (white New Zealander) listening to those sorts of comments would think 'oh, that's OK, it's just a bit of banter.'

"But he's hearing it as a 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?"

Ross Taylor shines light on eye-opening incident

In perhaps one of the more disturbing allegations from the book, Taylor describes an encounter with an unnamed New Zealand cricket official, who felt the need to offer his financial assistance to Taylor's family because of their cultural background.

Taylor says the former manager and coach of the New Zealand team made unintentionally racist comments when offering his support to Taylor's wife.

The manager told Taylor's wife Victoria that in his experience players of Maori and Pacific Island heritage had problems managing money, so he offered them his assistance.

"Let me be clear: I don't think for one minute that they were coming from a racist perspective," Taylor added.

"What to them is a bit of harmless banter is actually confronting for the targets because it tells them they're seen as being different. Instead of the message being 'you're one of us, mate,' it is, in effect, 'you're one of them'."

A New Zealand Cricket spokesperson told the New Zealand Herald newspaper that the national body "deplores racism, is a staunch supporter of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission's Give Nothing to Racism campaign and is deeply disappointed Ross has been exposed to this type of behaviour."

with AAP

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