The Indian Premier League (IPL) is one tournament where overseas players get to mingle with the Indian players, and the competition has been a big reason why players all around the world get along pretty well.
2011 IPL was the time when former New Zealand player Ross Taylor got to share the dressing room with the likes of Rahul Dravid and Shane Warne. That particular edition of the tournament made Taylor understand of how much fandom the Indian cricketers enjoy and how difficult it is for them to venture out in the public.
Writing in his autobiography ‘Black And White’, Taylor narrated one incident where he along with Dravid went to Ranthambore National Park to spot a tiger, and how the normal public were more interested in Dravid rather than spotting a rare tiger.
“I asked Dravid, ‘how many times have you seen a tiger?’ He said, ‘I’ve never seen a tiger. I’ve been on 21 of these expeditions and haven’t seen a single one.’ I thought, ‘What? 21 safaris for zero sightings.’ Seriously, if I’d known that, I wouldn’t have gone. I would’ve said, “No thanks, I’ll watch the Discovery channel. Jake Oram had been out in the morning – no joy. There was some baseball game on TV that he wanted to watch so he didn’t come with us on the mid-afternoon safari. It wasn’t long before our driver got a radio call from a colleague to say they’d found T-17, a famous, tagged tiger. Dravid was thrilled: 21 safaris without seeing as much as a tiger turd, but half an hour into number 22 he’d hit pay dirt,” Taylor wrote, as reported by stuff.co.nz.
“We pulled up beside the other vehicles, open-top SUVs a bit bigger than Land Rovers. The tiger was on a rock, a good 100 metres away. We were stoked to see a tiger in the wild, but the people in the other vehicles immediately aimed their cameras at Rahul. They were as excited to see him as we were to see the tiger. Maybe more: across the globe there are almost 4000 tigers in the wild, but there’s only one Rahul Dravid,” he wrote further.
Taylor had retired from international cricket earlier this year, and he released his autobiography on Thursday. In the book, Taylor opened up about instances of racism that he faced through his playing career. He spoke about how it would crop up in dressing room banter and in comments from some staff members and officials. Taylor, who is part Samoan, said he had been “an anomaly” for large parts of his career.
“Cricket in New Zealand is a pretty white sport. For much of my career I’ve been an anomaly, a brown face in a vanilla line-up. That has its challenges, many of which aren’t readily apparent to your teammates or the cricketing public,” Taylor wrote.
“In many ways, dressing-room banter is the barometer. A teammate used to tell me, ‘You’re half a good guy, Ross, but which half is good? You don’t know what I’m referring to’. I was pretty sure I did. Other players also had to put up with comments that dwelt on their ethnicity. In all probability, a Pakeha listening to those sorts of comments would think, ‘Oh, that’s okay, it’s just a bit of banter’. But he’s hearing it as white person, and it’s not directed at people like him. So, there’s no pushback; no one corrects them,” he continued.