Cricket still doesn't want blacks

Journalists with inside knowledge are predicting that Alex Tudor, the Caribbean hero of the first Test, is likely to lose his place for the second Test at Lord's. Tudor brought his team back from the brink of disaster, scoring 131 runs off 181 balls in the two innings combined, without being dismissed. As a bowler, he is as quick as any around, with the exception of Shoaib Akhtar of Pakistan. I saw him bowl in Australia. He had the Waugh brothers hopping and bebopping. I swear that Mark Waugh was shuffling towards square leg while Tudor was pumping his way to the bowling crease.

I am told that Tudor works assiduously at his game, that he wants to know how to advance his technique and how to acquaint himself with the finer points. And, in spite of all this, he cannot be sure of a place in what, by the standards of Test cricket, is a fifth-rate team. I can scarcely take it in.

But I have always been worried that Tudor would be worn down by those who wish cricket to remain white. "Football and athletics have already been taken over," is the attitude of these people. "Let's keep them out of cricket." Devon Malcolm, another black fast bowler, was destroyed. Tudor was left out of the World Cup, taking loads of wickets on the county circuit while England paraded a team of nonentities. Whatever happened to Keith Piper, the black Warwickshire wicketkeeper? There are many fine Asian players in the local leagues, yet they barely appear in county cricket.

I fear for Tudor. I read an interview with him in one of the broadsheets, and he is already concentrating on bringing down the average number of runs he concedes per over - from 4 to 3.5, or some such statistical irrelevancy. He should be encouraged to bowl as quickly as he can, to play his natural game and to forget the rest for the time being. I wish him well; I am not sure that others do.

Darcus Howe is an outspoken writer, broadcaster and social commentator. His TV work includes ‘White Tribe’ in which he put Anglo-Saxon Britain under the spotlight. He also fronted a series called Devil’s Advocate.

This article first appeared in the 12 July 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Were chimps the first socialists?