Racism has become a most-talked topic amid the wake of the Black Lives Matter campaign. Many cricketers have opened up about that racism and its existence in cricket. Unlike other games, racism is not very prevalent in cricket but it exists in the game and there is no doubt on that. Recently the players like Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy, Michael Carberry have spoken up that they faced racism while playing. And now former England allrounder Phillip DeFreitas has spoken about this.
He has revealed that he was warned he would be shot if he played for England. DeFreitas, who took 140 and 115 wickets in 44 Tests and 103 ODIs respectively, revealed that he received multiple death threats as well which also affected his international career as well.
“I received hate letters from the National Front – it’s not only once, I received that two or three times, saying ‘If you play for England, we will shoot you’,” Phillip DeFreitas said in a Sky Cricket Podcast.
“I had police looking after my house. I had a sponsored car with my name on it and I had to remove that. So can you imagine me driving down to London? I’m in a hotel two days before a Test match at Lord’s and I’m thinking ‘do I play or don’t I? Am I going to have a sniper? How can I focus on playing cricket for England with all that but with my determination, I would not allow those people to beat me ever,” he further added.
Phillip DeFreitas, who played for England for a time period of 1986 to 1997, further said that he fought the racism battle alone as no one helped him at that time. Moreover, he used to think his skin colour made the thing tough for him and he felt that he had to work harder and be better than a white person.
“I had no help, I had no support; I had to deal with that all on my own, it hurts quite a lot. I remember going home to my Mum and saying ‘I don’t feel like I belong there’. But I’m proud of what I achieved,” he said. “To have Gladstone Small and Chris Lewis playing for England was fantastic – it made you feel a bit better, but never secure. I never felt welcome; I always felt like every game was my last game. I was desperate to play for England and that kept me going.”
However, Phillip Defreitas further shared that he did not speak against racism during his playing days as he was afraid to lose his place in the team. Furthermore, he believes the current England team is capable of supporting and send a strong message against racism as well.
“I wish I was able to come out and stand up for what I believed when I played, and the reasons why I didn’t was because I was always afraid that I’d never play for England again or that I’d be seen as a trouble-maker. The guys now have a great opportunity to stand up, be counted, and send the message out because this is going on and people are supporting them. I never felt I had that support. It was a scary place back then,” he concluded.