Ebony Rainford-Brent and Michael Holding opened up about their experiences of racism within cricket in an emotional feature shown by Sky Sports Cricket before the first day’s play between England and West Indies at the Ageas Bowl.
Rainford-Brent played 29 times for England Women between 2001 and 2010, while Holding is rated as one of West Indies’ greatest-ever fast bowlers. Both have become respected pundits since their playing days ended, and opened up on their experiences of racism at the start of Sky’s broadcast of the first Test of the summer.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been discussed and elevated ahead of the series, with both sides deciding to wear a logo on their Test shirts this summer. Rainford-Brent and Holding discussed George Floyd’s killing by police officers in the USA, which sparked worldwide protests, and their experiences of discrimination within cricket. The former said that her experience was worse inside cricket than outside it.
“I grew up in a very multicultural diverse London, with all sorts of colours, Black, White, Asian, everyone,” she said. “It was a melting pot. I noticed as soon as I walked into the world of cricket, comments started.”
“I had comments about where I grew up. The fact that I had a long name, maybe I didn’t know who my dad’s were, about my hair, about body parts, especially the derriere shall we say, about the food I ate and that it stank. It was just constant. Did I wash my skin? Everyone in your area gets stabbed. All these sort of things were drip fed constantly.”
“I’ve been in team environments, dealing constantly with people referring to ‘Your lot’. I’m not surprised that people coming into the environment don’t want to deal with that. I questioned myself sometimes why I stayed so long. I love the game, I think it has so much more to offer, but it can be really difficult dealing with that, day in, day out.”
Holding said he hadn’t experienced racism on the field, but did from crowds when playing in Australia and England, and explained how the Blackwash tour of England in 1984 meant more to the West Indies once they understood what Black people living in the UK had to experience everyday. Watch the whole feature: