Of all (in)human acts, the one that shows the greatest tenacity for survival, even after being discouraged, discredited, disparaged and widely criminalised, is racism. Liberal education and enlightened laws have worked, but have also driven much of it underground, where they fester, mutate and show up in ever finer, subtler ways. Though racism infects all walks of life, it draws the most outrage when it rears its head in sport, possibly because it so militates against the idea of ‘fair play’. Cricket, with its history of the coloniser introducing it to the Caribbean and the sub-continent, has run the gauntlet of racism and thus, a sudden spike of the scourge is distressing.
Forty-five years after a racist slur made by England captain Tony Greig whipped the collective pride of a touring West Indian team in 1976, England has slipped into soul-searching after a series of tweets, with misogynist and anti-Asian connotations, forced the England and Wales Cricket Board to ‘grovel’ at a time of an impending blockbuster Test series with India. With sport adopting a zero-tolerance approach towards racism and sexism, a clutch of England cricketers has been found to express their ‘superiority’, with inappropriate posts on social media. A worried ECB has initiated a ‘review’ of these old posts, fearing more skeletons tumbling out of the stinky cupboard.