Paul Adams has revealed how he was racially discriminated against by former South African teammates, including current coach Mark Boucher, during his time as a Proteas player.
Speaking at Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) Social Justice and Nation-Building hearings, the former South African spinner revealed several instances of racial discrimination, including being nicknamed “brown s***” by his teammates, across his playing and coaching career.
Adams was the only player of colour in the Proteas XI when he made his Test debut in 1995 and remained a minority in race terms throughout his nine-year career, which he described as “not all fun and games,” largely because he was subject to racial stereotyping inside and outside the team.
“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,'” Adams said. “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.”
He said that his girlfriend at the time, who is now his wife, was the first to ask him why he was called that and say it was not right.
“It’s one that stayed with me,” Adams told the commission. “My now wife, back then my girlfriend, she would always make a comment to me about it. She (asked): ‘Why are they talking to you like that?’ ‘Why would they call you that name?’ ‘It’s not right.’ I would just shrug it off.”
While Adams didn’t initially name Boucher, he later admitted that the current Proteas coach was one of his teammates that referred to him as a “brown s***”.
“I never addressed it with him. Mark was just one of the guys (who called me that)… it only came back to me afterwards. I was caught up in the fun of being along in the team and not (wanting) to ruffle any feathers. For me, when I thought about it, and my wife kept telling me, ‘why do they call you that?’ then I realised it wasn’t right.”
“They wouldn’t call a white player, ‘white shit,’ or anything like that, it was ‘brown shit.’”
“I’m just highlighting that it should never happen and if we take this forward in the right way, we will have a lot more respect for each other. Maybe he (Boucher) should come and say sorry. Maybe that is all that needs to happen. It is something that should not be brushed under the carpet. We should air it, if we want our teams within Cricket SA to have the right ethics, the right mentality, the right respect for one another, we should air these things.”
Adams called for greater education to ensure people of all races are treated with respect going forward, and said coming forward was not to destroy CSA but to help the organisation to grow.