Former South African wrist-spinner Paul Adams has revealed that he faced racial discrimination on numerous occasions across his playing and coaching career. Adams also recalled that he was called a “brown sh*t” by former Proteas teammates including Mark Boucher throughout his nine-year career.
Recently, Adams told Cricket South Africa's Social Justice and Nation-building (SJN) hearings about the number of incidents of alleged racism he experienced in his playing and coaching career.
Saying the racial stereotyping was rampant during his playing days, Paul revealed that his former South African teammates referred to him as ‘brown sh*t’ during the victory songs and post-match celebrations.
However, the former spinner was aware of the challenges and pressures of being a player of colour in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was the only player of colour in the Proteas playing XI when he made his Test debut in 1995. He took 134 wickets in 45 Tests and 29 wickets in 24 ODIs for South Africa before announcing his retirement in October 2008.
As reported by ESPNCricinfo, Adams said: “I was called brown s*** when I was playing. It often used to be a song when we won a game and we were in fines' meetings. They would sing, “brown s*** in the ring, tra la la la laa’.”
The 44-year-old further revealed that his wife, who was then his girlfriend, was the first to ask him why he was called that and to do something about it, but he didn’t speak out against the racial slur.
He continued, “When you are playing for your country, when you have had that victory, you don't make sense of it, you brush it off, but it's blatantly racist. Some people will say unconscious bias and they weren't aware but this is why we are here - to change that.”
Adams also said certain sections of the media were also racially biased and recalled how they used to describe his bowling. He recalled, “When I burst on the scene, I was very different: my action, I was very different from the norm, from how I looked, the music I played and even how I spoke. But one thing stood out for me, which was how some parts of the media described my bowling action.”
The former cricketer added, “It would be described as 'stealing hubcaps off moving cars' and I found it derogatory. Was it because I was born in the Cape Flats? Is it always that Cape Coloureds are referred to as gangsters and thieves? It's a form of racial stereotyping.”
He also revealed how was inspired by many people including former South Africa President Nelson Mandela through the messages that how important he was for the country and game.
Adams recalled, “I got many messages and a special message from Tata Nelson Mandela [South Africa's former president]. He expressed to me how important I was for the country and what it meant. That's when I sat back and felt there's more to this game of cricket than just me walking out onto the cricket field. I represented a new generation of young black South Africans performing in the world. It hadn't been seen before.”
He signed off by saying, “I was super proud of how I got there. However, it came with a lot of pressure. There was always pressure to win the game but the pressure I am talking about is the pressure of having to outperform white players. You always felt you had to do double the effort.”