Former New Zealand batter Ross Taylor opened up about racism in New Zealand cricket during his playing days. Taylor, regarded as one of the greatest ever batters in New Zealand's cricket history, announced his retirement from international cricket earlier this year. The right-hander, who has Samoan heritage on his mother's side, described in his book "Ross Taylor Black and White" how he and other teammates endured insensitive "banter" from white players.
"In many ways, dressing room banter is the barometer," wrote Taylor, who played his last international match in April. 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," Taylor wrote.
"Other players also had to put up with comments that dwelt on their ethnicity. In all probability, a Pakeha (white New Zealander) 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."
Taylor, who has scored more than 18000 international runs for New Zealand, said the episodes left him feeling conflicted.
"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," the 38-year-old said. It's easier to develop a thick skin and let it slide, but is that the right thing to do?"
Taylor said a former manager and coach of the New Zealand team made comments that were unintentionally racist.
The manager told Taylor's wife, Victoria, that in his experience players of Maori and Pacific Island heritage have problems managing money and offered his assistance.
Taylor said former coach Mike Hesson, who guided the New Zealand men's team for six years from 2012, once told him 'my cleaner's Samoan. She's a lovely lady, hard-working, and very trustworthy.'
"All I could say was 'oh, cool,' Taylor wrote. "I have no doubt that (the officials) and the guys who engaged in the 'banter' would be dismayed to learn that their remarks landed with a thud.
"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.
"What to them is a bit of harmless banter is actually confronting 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.'"