Interview of Cricket Fans (ICF) – 25

Black Lives Matter (BLM) – a movement that was founded in 2013, only recently received much traction with regards to George Floyd incident that happened at the end of May, 2020. In sport, however, racism still exists, be it Cricket or Football. England and Tottenham defender Danny Rose says that suffering racism is ‘everyday life’ for him as he got stopped by the police and a common question that he keeps receiving is, “is this car stolen?”. Indian Cricketer turned commentator Aakash Chopra also revealed that racism happens in Cricket, when he was playing for Marylebone Cricket Club in 2007, two South African players kept bombarding him with the word ‘Paki’ which is a derogative word used to racially absuse brown skin people.
I got the opportunity to interact with @lue_balo and have a chat about this sensitive topic in this interview article with regards to transformation at grassroot levels and how sport can be a medium to bring about a change that is required.

Thank You so much for your participation in this interview, since how long have you been following Cricket and tell us a bit about your early memories associated with this game.

Let me first just thank you bhai for choosing me for this interview and congratulations on wonderful interviews you have been gracing us on twitter. Well, for me cricket began as sort of a secondary sport but that is because I am from a rural area where cricket is barely even known. I was lucky enough to have a mother who used to love watching cricket which is how I also began to start falling in love with this beautiful game. I still have vivid memories of that run out between Zulu and AD, it is also one of the memories I shared with my late mother, as sad it was. Long story short, I have been watching cricket since I was about 4/5 years old.

South Africa have had its fair share of problems in the past, we will get to that later, but what is it that you like about Proteas and the way they play their Cricket?

I think over the years South Africa as cricket team has been known for its grit and never say die spirit and that is probably something I used to like and admire as a cricket person. But this is something I would like us to move on from but that is probably a topic for another day.

What are your thoughts on the racial allegations against Graeme Smith?

Uhm well the allegations against DoC, Graeme Smith are heavy ones hey? They are so heavy that they have left all of us wondering and asking ourselves a lot of questions. I personally feel the fact that he (Graeme) has not owned up to any of them is worrying. He did not even come out and acknowledge anything except for that statement he wrote in reply to Thami Tsolekile. His response to Makhaya Ntini is that he was not aware or something like that and the fact that he can come out and say something like that having played and captained Makkie in so many matches is worrying. I just feel Biff needs to own up, perhaps have a chat with all these guys and apologize to the people. Listening and watching all these guys speak, you could see and hear that they are still hurting.

BLM is a revolutionary movement that promises to bring down racism worldwide, how do you think the transformation can take place for Cricket in South Africa and how things can improve from the grassroots level?

I for one have always said Transformation does not start on the field, it starts in our minds, we need to first transform our thinking first. We need to unlearn a lot of things and let go of a lot of stereotypes when it comes to cricket and race in the context of South Africa. Until then, there will always be two sides to this. A side resisting the change that comes in the form of transformation and a side that seeks to force the change. CSA can pump in money and resources in grassroot level, but nothing will happen if our thinking is still as it is now. We need to take cricket to all the less privileged areas; we need to narrow the gap between the so-called cricket schools and the less recognised schools. We also need to move away from Teachers getting more and better coaching opportunities while there are coaches sitting at home, there are coaches who have been volunteering for years but not getting opportunities. We obviously need people who understand WHY cricket needs to transform which goes back to what I say about our thinking. Another thing is that we need people who understand cricket and the history of our cricket because then decisions taken will be decisions that will benefit SA cricket and not split it apart.

Michael Holding said that we need to educate the entire human race to eradicate racism, do you thinkg sports can be a great way to start?

Yes, Sport is definitely a great place to start but you cannot start at U19 level to teach people about racism. It needs to start from the very lower levels of age of group cricket. Nobody is born racist though which goes back to the type of environment we grow up in. I have worked with U9 to u13 kids of different races and can tell you now, Kids treat their coach the way their parents treat them. Sometimes you can see that a kid is conflicted, he/she likes you as his/her coach but because the parents feels different the kid becomes confused. Sport can contribute to the fight against racism, but I personally believe the fight will be won first in our households.

What are your thoughts on Aaron Finch and Eoin Morgan denying to protest for Black Lives Matter?

I was a bit disappointed to read what Finch said but I also believe we cannot and should not force people to support a movement they do not want to support. People are free to do as they please and wish. I am sure this is something the Australia side feels strongly about hence their captain was conveying a message to the public. Big question I have though is, how do players like Usman, Ashton and others feel about this? Did Finch and co consider them or was it a decision only based on the current squad? 

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