No Dadagiri? BCCI Quiet On Sammy Calling Out ‘Racism’ During IPL

BCCI needs to step up and take action after Daren Sammy revealed he was called ‘kalu’ by his IPL teammates.

Updated10 Jun 2020, 09:09 AM IST
IPL
5 min read

Daren Sammy may have just realised that he was being called ‘kallu’ – not as a term of endearment, but as a racist identifier based on the colour of his skin – during his Sunrisers Hyderabad days in the Indian Premier League (IPL). But, his revelation has yet again thrown light on the dark underbelly of Indian society.

The former West Indies captain’s revelations have added spark to the ongoing debate around the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

‘Woke’ celebrities from India and other social justice warriors jumped onto the bandwagon without realising the nature or the significance of the protests across the world, especially in the United States.

In India, colour/race/caste is casually mentioned in discussions – especially in groups where these are considered to be a matter of ‘pride’. But, the fact that an international star, that too of colour, has shed light on this side of the Indian system, has been met with a complete sense of denial.

Look at the comments on Sammy’s social media posts and you realise that the problem is not with the cricketers who called him a particular name, but with the system we grow up in, that justifies the use of a racial slur as a term of endearment.

No one has understood the simple fact that what may be acceptable – which it should not be – in India, is not okay in most parts of the world. All this adds to the debate around race, colour, caste.

We have always seen race as a problem affecting people from south Asia or Africa. But, the issue is much more complex and goes deeper than that. We cannot afford to take it lightly anymore.

It is quite simple: Slurs of any nature, which mock people on the basis of their identity is racism.

Instagram posts by India Test fast bowler Ishant Sharma from 2014 reveal that he was one of the Sunrisers’ boys who called Sammy ‘Kallu’.

Before Sammy’s revelations came forth, it should have been incumbent upon IPL and even Sunrisers Hyderabad to have immediately launched an enquiry into the whole matter on a suo motu basis.

Quite often, we wait for things to boil over and then follow the lead to launch inquiries and only then, get into the matter in depth. This was the perfect opportunity to take the lead and show the world that we care. Instead, we have chosen to believe that we cannot be instigators of such vile issues, because we have been at the receiving end ourselves.

No Dadagiri? BCCI Quiet On  Sammy Calling Out ‘Racism’ During IPL

Let us draw our attention back to the comments below Sammy’s post and you get to know that it is now a matter of patriotism now, for most social media warriors. This is where the battle is lost for Indians on a global platform.

Both IPL and Sunrisers Hyderabad should have taken cognisance of the matter to show the world that BCCI is indeed the world leader in cricket.

That would have sent out a strong message to the entire cricketing ecosystem, that BCCI is not going to take matters of this nature lying down.

This was the perfect launching pad for Sourav Ganguly to show the world that he is indeed the boss of Indian cricket and by default of world cricket. But he has, so far, chosen to remain quiet about this issue and has preferred not to order any kind of enquiry into this matter.

Remember how he wished away queries around whether IPL could be affected by COVID-19 in early March? This time, it is something similar, only the BCCI president is quiet.

This matter may have been in the past, but an efficient professional system would have structures in place to deal with such issues. Instead, we are happy being an ad-hoc body stuck in a time warp. This results in us being reactive, most times, rather than proactive.

Thus far, we have heard ‘sources’ close to the organisation deny the allegations, which is hardly a surprise. Those from the franchise have also denied and so have some of the players. But, the emergence of photographic evidence of Ishant’s instagram post suggests that Sammy is right.

As a contracted player, Ishant is made aware of statutes in the anti-racism code of ICC and BCCI. So, he is very well aware of the way these matters are to be dealt with.

Unfortunately, anti-racism code of ICC and BCCI has now just become lip-service or mundane announcements before the start of a match or video messages to be played out on the big screen.

They do not really mean anything, because it is now clear that the player does not really pay attention to the nature of the messages. It is almost akin to anti-corruption and anti-doping messages that are delivered before a series or tournament. Yet, we still see players getting caught in the act.

It was, therefore, important for the BCCI to set an example with an investigation, because IPL is the world’s most valued franchise-based cricket league. At a time when T20 World Cup is likely to be delayed, in a bid to accommodate the IPL, the best way forward would have been to delve into this issue.

Daren Sammy played in the IPL for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2013 and 2014.
Daren Sammy played in the IPL for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2013 and 2014.
(Photo: BCCI)

Every year, many young Indians from the interior parts of the country are getting picked for big money in the IPL. With no formal grounding on such issues, the awareness created by an investigation into this matter would have reached those youngsters as well.

Ganguly, as India captain, fought a gallant battle against ICC match referee Mike Denness in 2001-02. At that time, race was a major defence for Indians because Denness raised questions about integrity of several players including Sachin Tendulkar.

Later, in 2007-08 Ganguly was a senior player when Australian Andrew Symonds and India’s Harbhajan Singh got involved in the murky ‘Monkeygate’ in the Sydney Test. At that time, too. race was at the centre of the issue.

Incidentally, today (9 June) is Symonds’ birthday, who never quite recovered from that issue and saw an abrupt end to his international career.

So, Ganguly is well aware of the sensitive nature of the matter. He should, therefore, seize the issue and order an immediate enquiry.

Ganguly has recently been linked to the position of ICC chairman. If such an issue happens in an international tournament or series, would he not act if a match-referee failed to step in?

India wants leadership of the game of cricket only on the basis of financial muscle, but what about flexing the muscle on the basis of morality as well some times? Afterall, we are from the land of Mahatama Gandhi and Gautam Buddha.

(Chandresh Narayanan is a former cricket writer with The Times of India, The Indian Express, ex-Media Officer for ICC and the Delhi Daredevils. He is also the author of World Cup Heroes, Cricket Editorial consultant, professor and cricket TV commentator.)

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Published: 09 Jun 2020, 02:15 PM IST

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