Racism will always be that hideous, old cloak in the hallway so no matter how much one airs it out, it's never going to become sexy anywhere, never mind the sporting arena.

Yet every time it raises its ugly head there seems to be a futile sense of ritual obligation to be drawn into explaining how racism functions and why it's so vile.

This time it's pertaining to the joker who verbally assaulted England cricketer Jofra Archer at the Bay Oval in Mt Maunganui. The 28-year-old has been banned from attending international and domestic fixtures in New Zealand until 2022.

"Whoop-de-doo," I thought. "Here we go again."

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The Auckland man had zeroed in on Archer on the final day of the first test between England and the Black Caps in November. Someone had complained to Tauranga police who got a confession from the culprit and a verbal warning had ensued. NZ Cricket wrote to the man, advising him of what is, at best, a wet bus ticket.

Reiterating apologies to Archer and England, NZ Cricket spokesman Anthony Crummy says if the bloke breaches the conditions of his ban he "could become subject to further police action".

Here's the head scratcher. Crummy says they won't identify the offender.

NZ Cricket spokesman Anthony Crummy says if the 28-year-old Auckland man breaches the conditions of his two-year ban than he
NZ Cricket spokesman Anthony Crummy says if the 28-year-old Auckland man breaches the conditions of his two-year ban than he "could become subject to further police action". Photo / Photosport

Hello? So how will anyone at any park in the country know if this drongo is there?

You see, herein lies the problem despite assurances to continue lobbying "fiercely against offensive language and/or behaviour" with the offer to fans of a text alert system to notify ground security.

Every act of racism is significant because it denotes the rejection of an individual's humanity so name and shame the offender. It ought to be treated as a crime — no ifs or buts. Like it or not, history shows kingdoms have been built on the pre-supposition of racial superiority, quite often amid bloodshed, so how is it less important than making test matches four-day affairs?

Surely no one is naive enough to believe that racism is confined to cricket or, for that matter, to sport. It's entrenched in pockets of society. It's learned, not inherent. Grading it doesn't make it any more palatable.

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As a brown skin, dome-headed man I have come across it in myriad shapes and form in different walks of life.

I recall a grinning department head once asking me in the South Island if I had "settled in comfortably behind the bars" on arriving to work in a city. I didn't know how to respond to that but chuckling colleagues, nudging and winking, had tried to assure me "he's only joking".

Then there was the instance of a Hastings clothes retailer who had remarked to a female staff member that "it's people like him who kill business". It was Hastings, I was the bare-footed bloke in a tank top and shorts outside the shop and the employee was my wife who I was waiting to pick up minutes before knock-off time — the retailer had later discovered much to his horror.

In the sports arena, I recall taking my then two young daughters to McLean Park, Napier, to watch their first ODI, against Pakistan. My, supposedly, oversight — I had unsuspectingly worn a green T-shirt so as we walked in front of the now defunct McKenzie Stand, fans had hurled Islamic slurs. (I'm a non-practising Hindu). Later that day, at home, my stunned daughters were counselled on how to deal with such insults.

As a social competitive footballer, I once howled at how an opponent had crudely hacked my teammate in a tackle. The colour-blind offender had likened me to a black part of the female anatomy before threatening to assault the referee. The player remained on the field, the promised ref's report wasn't filed, the football body said it couldn't act as a result and the whistle blower quit.

Consequently I consider myself suitably qualified to broach a subject that is often treated dogmatically in the hope it'll remain dormant — if not just go away — until another incident occurs.

Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann, as an international batsman, had reportedly taken a darker route to express his feelings when Sri Lanka had dismissed him. Photo / Photosport
Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann, as an international batsman, had reportedly taken a darker route to express his feelings when Sri Lanka had dismissed him. Photo / Photosport

Cricket is no stranger to such vitriol. Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann reportedly walked into the Australian dressing room and shouted out "black c — s", after Sri Lanka had dismissed him.

Another Aussie great, Ian Chappell, in 2016 told TV South Africa speed merchant Kagiso Rabada must have developed his technique while rolling his arm to batsmen in his village.

The derogatory inference, no doubt, is a black man in South Africa can only hone his skills in a dusty village.

Then there was talented Aussie batsman Dean Jones, who, as a TV commentator, had labelled Proteas batsman Hashim Amla "a terrorist". Jones had, consequently, lost his job.

Closer to home, a few summers before that, boorish fans — with alcohol becoming the escape clause — from a McLean Park hospitality booth had hurled terrorist expletives at Pakistan cricketers.

In 2017, NZ Cricket's first female president, Debbie Hockley, had "apologised unreservedly" for an on-air blunder during the second Black Caps v West Indies test in Hamilton.

As the camera zoomed to two Caribbean women in the crowd, Hockley, in her maiden stint as a TV commentator, had asked, "Is that Serena Williams?"

NZ Cricket had played bat/pad, claiming the comment wasn't intended in a racist manner.

"Debbie Hockley is mortified that she's made such a rookie error and she apologises unreservedly," it said.

Ex-rugby international Melodie Robinson, representing Sky TV, had said: "We totally support Debbie and we think it was an unfortunate remark but mistakes happen in commentary and, particularly, when you're starting out."

Somehow the disclosure that ushering in former White Ferns captain/coach Maia Lewis into its commentary box that summer had become a mitigating factor.

The pervasive nature of racism makes it difficult to monitor but when guilt is proven then there must be closure.

Amla wanted to simply "get on with the game" but Archer took umbrage, saying: "There is no time or place for it in any walk of life, let alone cricket. It's just not called for."

Threats of a life ban watered down to a two-year castigation makes a mockery of not just cricket but New Zealand.

South Africa batsman Hashim Amla had reached for the card of diplomacy after Aussie TV commentator Dean Jones had labelled him a terrorist. Photo / Photosport
South Africa batsman Hashim Amla had reached for the card of diplomacy after Aussie TV commentator Dean Jones had labelled him a terrorist. Photo / Photosport