Darren Sammy Racism Row: Why Are Indian Cricketers Who Spoke About BLM Protests Suddenly Silent?

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Darren Sammy Racism Row: Why Are Indian Cricketers Who Spoke About BLM Protests Suddenly Silent?

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

Darren Sammy caused a stir in India, after posting an Instagram video where he accused teammates from the Sunrisers Hyderabad of directing racist slurs towards him. “You know who you are,” Sammy said. “Now, I realise it was degrading, I will be texting you guys and I will ask you as to when you called me with that name, did you all mean it in any bad way or form?” he asked.

Former West Indian captain and opener Chris Gayle has publicly come out in support of Darren Sammy. The swashbuckling batsman, never known to shy away from taking a stand, took to Twitter and said, “It’s never too late to fight for the right cause or what you’ve experienced over the years!”

In an Instagram Live chat with commentator Mpumelelo Mbangwa, all-rounder Dwayne Bravo made a strong appeal. “It is sad to see what is going on around the world. As a black man, we know the history of what black people have been through. We never ask for revenge, we ask for equality and respect. That is it. We give respect to others. Why is it that we are facing this over and over. Now enough is enough. We just want equality. We don’t want revenge, war. We just want respect.”

Andre Russell and Carlos Brathwaite also took a stand, sharing messages on their social media handles and joining a march. While the West Indian cricketers extended their support to Darren Sammy, Indian cricketers remain mute on this issue. An old Instagram post by Ishant Sharma was brought to light by news organisations, where the fast bowler has used a racial slur in his caption to describe the West Indian cricketer. Ishant Sharma hasn’t posted anything in the last 48 hours, even as he trended across social media in India.

The God of Cricket, Sachin Tendulkar had invoked Nelson Mandela and shared a video from the International Cricket Council that stated their stand against racism. But ever since Darren Sammy made his allegations public, the Little Master hasn’t weighed in on the issue.

Sammy’s ex-Sunrisers teammates Irfan Pathan, Parthiv Patel and Venugopal Rao didn’t back up Sammy’s claims. “I don’t think I have heard anyone using those (derogatory) words,” said Parthiv Patel to The Telegraph. “I’m not very sure… Not aware of it,” said Venugopal Rao.

Irfan Pathan tried to do a bit of a balancing act, stating, “I was there with him (Sammy) in 2014. I feel had this really happened, the matter would definitely have been discussed. So I’m not aware of such things as nothing was discussed in a larger way. But at the same time, we need to educate our people because I’ve seen them (racial jibes) in domestic cricket. Some of our cricketers from the south, especially, have faced that in the northern and western parts of the country, though I don’t want to name anyone.”

A senior Board official, who was one of the office-bearers during that period, said, “Sammy should have reported at that time if he had any complaints.” Clearly, there seems to be a resistance to accept a systemic issue when we know for a fact that not only cricketers, but everyday people are also used to hearing these racist slurs. They are very much part of our interactions. Ishant Sharma’s post from 2014 only backs Sammy’s assertion and the last thing our cricketers should do is be in denial. As DJ Bravo said, “Enough is enough.”