Ross Taylor in action against India on Day 6 of the WTC final (Twitter/BlackCaps)
Ross Taylor in action against India on Day 6 of the WTC final (Twitter/BlackCaps)

Murphy Su’a, the former Black Caps bowler has revealed a targeted racist incident involving a senior player in the 1990s.

After Black Caps great former batter Ross Taylor revealed his own experience of bigotry within the Black Caps setup, Murphy Su’a says he was victim to a racist comment from a senior member of the side.

Murphy Su'a bowling for the Black Caps against Australia in 1993. Photo / Photosport
Murphy Su’a bowling for the Black Caps against Australia in 1993. Photo / Photosport

Murphy Su’a Spoke About Being Upset After Being A Target Of Racism In The ’90s

Ross Taylor is only the second Test player after Murphy Su’a, who played 13 Tests in the mid-’90s, to hail from Samoa, the island on the Pacific Ocean. The Polynesian islands, while having ample representation in rugby, have not broken through New Zealand cricket much.

“It really upset me. I got quite angry about it but nothing was ever done about it.”

The Samoan-New Zealander says management swept the event under the rug, saying the player didn’t mean it.

“They said it was just the heat of the moment. But for me, it wasn’t the heat of the moment. No matter what you’re doing, you can’t talk to people and categorise them in the way that person did. He’s never apologised for it and probably doesn’t think he did anything wrong.”

Murphy Su'a in 2010. Photo / Photosport
Murphy Su’a in 2010. Photo / Photosport

Murphy Su’a says he was even held partially responsible for the incident.

“They blamed me for my attitude. But it wasn’t my attitude. When someone calls you a derogatory comment about where you come from, why wouldn’t you get upset and defend yourself?”

Murphy Su’a – like Ross Taylor – is of Samoan descent and regarded as New Zealand’s first Pasifika player at the international level. The left-arm seamer played 13 Tests and 12 one-dayers for the Black Caps between 1992 and 1995.

Richard Boock Offered Sympathy To Murphy Su’a

New Zealand Cricket spokesperson Richard Boock offered sympathy to Murphy Su’a.

“I think the further you go back in time the worse that type of behaviour was. As Ross himself has said, things have improved immeasurably since then.”

Richard Boock says the governing body has reformed since the 1990s.

“When Murphy started playing international cricket, the old NZCC was run by a chairman and a secretary – it was before the days of the Hood Report, which transformed the body into a professional organization. There was no players association, and very little support and protection for the players then.”

“Thankfully, the environment has improved a lot, but it’s still terrible that Murphy and others had to experience that.”

In his book, Ross Taylor says dressing-room banter would often cross the line into racist remarks.

“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.”

Murphy Su’a says he’s unsurprised to hear of Ross Taylor’s experiences. Murphy Su’a says he would regularly receive off-handed remarks about his race from teammates.

“There were definitely some facets of racism within the team. It wasn’t widespread but there were definitely parts of racism there. Part of it I think is ignorance.”
Ross Taylor:- REUTERS/Ross Setford (image sourced from Otago Daily Times www.odt.co.nz)
Ross Taylor:- REUTERS/Ross Setford (image sourced from Otago Daily Times www.odt.co.nz)

The New Zealand Cricket board is mostly Pākehā, with Rebecca Rolls and Diana Puketapu of Māori descent, both affiliates of the Ngāti Porou iwi. There is no Pasifika representative. Su’a says the governing body has failed to address diversity in management when compared with other national unions.

“Women are one facet of diversity, but when you have people coming in that they perceive as ‘diverse’ but they have the same train of thought and way of thinking, that’s not diversity to me.”

As Pasifika representatives, Ross Taylor and Murphy Su’a are anomalies in the top tier of New Zealand’s game. But Murphy Su’a says Ross Taylor holds the key to making cricket a more inclusive sport. He says more Māori and Pasifika youngsters would play if there was greater representation at the highest level.

“I think Ross is the perfect person that they should be utilizing as a role model and actually try to bridge the gap between the mainstream and Pasifika, Māori, and other ethnicities.”

In his career spanned over 16 years, Ross Taylor was one of the best batters the game had in the modern era. He played all three formats with equal success for the Kiwis. He scored 7684 Test runs, 8602 ODI runs, and 1909 T20I runs for his side.

Ross Taylor retired from international cricket in December 2021. Recently, he came up with his autobiography named ‘Black & White.’ He has written stories of facing multiple racial criticisms in a country where cricket is supposedly called a pretty “white sport”. He further said that his tanned figure was targeted by various people across the cricketing community of New Zealand.