The 36-year-old Sammy, who played for the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) before being released by the IPL franchise last season, recently made headlines when he revealed that he had been subjected to alleged racist slurs by both fans and teammates. This became a part of the discourse on the global ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement that was sparked after the death of an African-American male George Floyd in the USA under shocking circumstances, which further highlighted police brutality against the black community.
In an interview with the TimesofIndia.com, Sammy has revealed that he has had conversations with a few SRH players after his explosive claims. An old Instagram post of Ishant Sharma’s subsequently surfaced, where Sammy was captioned as ‘Kaluu’, which seemed to corroborate Sammy’s claims.
Back now on the field after a forced break because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the former West Indies skipper is focused on leading his T20 side St Lucia Zouks to the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) title.
The CPL 2020 will be the first multi-team tournament to begin under the stringent coronavirus-forced protocols. The Caribbean league begins on August 18 and will be soon followed by the Indian Premier League (IPL) season 13 in the UAE from September 19.
Fresh from a break, Sammy is quite stoked about getting back on the field, which he also sees as a chance to press for a national comeback and stay in the reckoning for the next T20 World Cup, which has been moved to 2021.
(Sammy in the St Lucia Zouks jersey)
Talking to Timesofindia.com ahead of St Lucia Zouks’ CPL opener, Sammy praised the West Indies team for throwing its weight behind the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement during their tour of England, while adding that he has cleared the air with his former SRH teammates, some of who allegedly referred to his skin colour while addressing him during his IPL days.
You’ve spoken strongly about racism after the George Floyd incident. Do you believe enough cricketers came forward and spoke about their experiences?
I cannot speak for everyone. I think I have proven that if there’s an issue and I’m being affected or my team is being affected, I will stand up and speak about it. Some people are not as brave as others, so that’s why those who are, should be a voice for those who cannot be heard. I think it’s an important subject or topic that needs to be discussed, because if it’s not, institutional or systemic racism, it’s one on one where people of colour get the racial slurs being thrown at them. I think it’s about time that we really take the bull by the horns, and that horn is racism. We need to take it front on and try to eradicate it in just life in general because every human being deserves to be treated equally.
Recently you spoke about confronting your SRH teammates on the racism that you faced during the IPL. Did you clear the air with them? What did they have to say?
I think on that matter, as you have seen not many people came out and spoke about it, that’s on them. But I did have conversations with a couple of the players. I heard what they had to say and have moved on from that particular time. But I won’t stop talking about the potential racism talk that’s going around; it’s real. I don’t care if you are a superpower or not, there is no time for that in this world, and especially in this current time, that you could use words that could be deemed as degrading the colour of one’s skin and expect that people wouldn’t talk about it. So I think there’s a need for educating the world on such issues.
How are you coping with the changed scenario of cricket after Covid-19 or during this Covid-19 break?
I am happy to be back working again for sure. This is something new, in a way you got to be isolated. But this is what it takes for us to play the game that we love. Ideally, that’s not what you would want, but in the interest of safety and health, that’s what you have to do. So I’m okay.
Do you see CPL 2020 being different in any other way?
The massive difference for sure is not having the fan atmosphere. I think that’s been one of the signatures of CPL, and we will definitely miss the fans in the stands. But again, to be able to play cricket in these trying times is a massive plus for us and I appreciate the efforts of the league giving us this opportunity.
West Indies have been lauded for coming forward to agree as the first team to tour amid the pandemic and could have topped that up with a Test series win in England, but they fell apart after a good start. What do you think went wrong?
We showed determination, patience and great skill in the first Test; and we got the results. We did that with both ball and bat. In the second Test, you could see Stuart Broad come and he was the difference for the guys (England). But we also did not show that same level of application, which we showed in the first Test, in the remaining two and it cost us dearly. But I think the bigger picture was, you know, the whole ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement being showcased in England in that first Test and in the series, the willingness for our West Indian team to go and talk and literally save the England summer. I wish they were compensated more for that, but it was great to see Test cricket back on the screens. Unfortunately, we couldn’t regain our trophy.
The IPL too is going ahead after the CPL. How challenging will it be for multi-team tournaments, especially when the ICC and Australia decided that the T20 World Cup can’t go ahead at this time?
First of all, it is disappointing not to have the (T20) World Cup, but I guess that’s for the people in the powerful positions to handle that. But again, with the IPL, it provides my fellow work colleagues an opportunity to earn a living and go out and showcase the talent and play the game that we love. Also for the fans (it is) an opportunity to see on TV the game that we love. Again, without fans, that’s the best that could have been done in the times that we are in, so we just have to go with the flow.