What has English cricket been like for black players?
June 28, 2020 1:18 PM   Subscribe

I'd ask how a black person is meant to feel when they go to Lord's - the so-called home of cricket - and there is a stand named after a man whose family wealth was built on slavery. I'd ask how you are meant to feel when you know the MCC, in recent times, appointed a man as president who led a rebel tour to South Africa during the apartheid years. And I'd ask whether there would be support for the recall of a young black man who had been seen fighting in the street and had failed a drugs test.

We spoke to several other players of Afro-Caribbean heritage who have played professional cricket in England over the years about their experiences in the country: Roland Butcher, the first black man to represent England, who now works as a coach and an educator in the game; Ebony Rainford-Brent, the first black woman to represent England, who currently works as a broadcaster, coach and Surrey board member; Chesney Hughes, a batsman who played for Derbyshire between 2010 and 2016; Donovan Miller, a former fast bowler who has been head coach in various T20 leagues and a part of England's coaching team during the 2019 World Cup; Arthur Godsal, a 22-year-old seamer who has played for England Under-19 and Middlesex; Tymal Mills, England fast bowler and broadcaster, and the most recent British-born player of Afro-Caribbean descent to represent England; Michael Holding, former West Indies fast bowler and broadcaster who has played county cricket as an overseas player and lives in the UK for much of the year; Tino Best, former West Indies fast bowler, who played county and league cricket in England; and Dr Richard Sargeant, an academic, educator and former cricketer.

Interviewed by George Dobell.

The man who has a stand named after him is Pelham Warner, a direct descendant of Thomas Warner.

The man who was president of the MCC is Mike Gatting. See also this recent piece from Barney Ronay: Jobs for the boys attitude highlights English cricket's failings on race.

The (white) man seen fighting in the street and who failed a drugs test is Alex Hales.
posted by smcg (5 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Shit, I'd forgotten about the actually racist apartheid-era South African rebel tours. As the Ronay article points out, chance is unlikely at the ECB: Gatting, captain of the second rebel tour, is an ambassador to the ECB, while Graveney, who organized the blood-Rand tours, still works there.

Fuck 'em all. It's no longer England's game.
posted by scruss at 2:36 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]

I have a lot of mixed feelings about cricket. I mean I love the game, but grow up listening to a lot of what, looking back, was highly racist cricket commentary.

Yet cricket remains the sport with the second highest following in the world and very strong BIPOC support, especially in the Caribbean, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

But yeah - its pretty cringe-worthy how much of my youth was spent listening to the 12th Man making fun of the names of a touring side from India.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 4:49 PM on June 28 [6 favorites]

I don't have any direct experience with any of this, but I do remember that in the movie Bend It Like Beckham the father was deeply bitter about being shut out of playing Cricket because he was black, and at the end of the movie he's playing cricket again and it is a huge source of joy to him.

The whole thing about racist bullshit in sports is stupid because people should play the games they want to play. I feel like I'm an 8 year old say this, but I'm 52 and why am I even having to say this in 2020?
posted by hippybear at 3:24 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]

There is a great documentary about the West Indies team at its peak called Fire in Babylon that is amazing because it touches on the topic of racism and cricket, but also because you get to see clips of that team totally dominating.
posted by chunking express at 5:38 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]

Mike Marqusee wrote an excellent book on this subject. Here's an extract.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 6:45 AM on June 29

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