The whole world is standing up to tackle the serious issue of racism and New Zealand cricketer Ish Sodhi is not far behind. In the just-concluded first Test between England and West Indies, the visitors sported the message of #BlackLivesMatter on their jerseys.
Following the footsteps of West Indies cricketers and pace legend Michael Holding, Ish Sodhi has come forward and expressed his desire to work towards eradicating racism from the sport of cricket.
"Diversity for me is something I've grown up with and it's something I'm lucky to have been exposed to at such a young age. I know I probably haven't done enough as I would like and expect myself to do, in terms of getting in the community and engaging with different ethnicities,” New Zealand leg-spinner Ish Sodhi told Newstalk ZB's D'Arcy Waldegrave.
Ish Sodhi opens up on diversity in New Zealand cricket team
Ish Sodhi was born in Ludhiana in Punjab and shifted to South Auckland at the age of four with his family. He went on to make his debut for the Northern Districts in New Zealand domestic cricket and went on to represent his country as well.
"I don't really see it as a responsibility. It's pretty cool that I'm a player of Indian origin who represents New Zealand. And I'm not the only one, we've had Jeet Raval, Ajaz Patel, we've had Mark Chapman and he's got a Chinese mum, we've got players born in South Africa like Neil Wagner and BJ Watling, so the diversity is there,” Ish Sodhi said about the diversity of players in the New Zealand side.
"It's just a matter of engaging more of those people at a grassroots to show them that there is a pathway for people of all origins to make cricket a career,” Ish Sodhi added.
Ish Sodhi has represented the Black Caps in 17 Tests, 33 ODIs and 45 T20s so far in his career.
New Zealand cricket is not devoid of racism as one remembers when a member from the crowd racially abused England pacer Jofra Archer during a Test match. The person was then banned from attending any international or domestic match for two years.
"There's no space for that, and when someone comes to our country, we want to create the best experience for them. Incidents like that get dealt with pretty quickly. Ignorance is the worst thing. And at the moment social media is so big so the conversation is open,” Ish Sodhi added.
Ish Sodhi believes that there is no quick solution to the problem. To weed to the malady of racism it might take ’10, 20, 30 or 40 years’, according to the leg spinner.
“The danger is people want the change here and now. They expect a 180-degree shift instantly and that's quite dangerous, as it can create some aggression or confrontation that doesn't sit well.
“But if we can look at it like a progressive thing and start that conversation now and educate as much as we can, and look at it as a long-term thing, we'll start to see the benefits from it. It might be 10, 20, 30, 40 years, but as long the work's done now, we'll benefit from it in the future,” Ish Sodhi felt.