Robin Peterson, the former South African cricketer, recently opened up about the racial ordeal that he suffered during his 15-year-old cricket career. Peterson, who made his First-Class debut for the Eastern Province in the late 90s, went on to make his international debut for the Proteas in the 2002 Champions Trophy semi-final against India in Colombo.
Peterson joins the list of South African cricketers who have recently revealed the racial abuse that has suffered during their career in the Proteas cricketing system in the wake of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. The former South African cricketer has alleged that he was once called the derogatory K-word [Kaffir- a derogatory racial term] by an experienced Proteas international- who he revealed was his ‘hero’- during his stint with the Eastern Province.
“I was called the K-word in a provincial game years ago by someone who represented South Africa in a lot of Test matches.” Peterson told the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation
“He was actually my hero growing up and I respected him, so it was a very sad thing. As one of the first generation of black players, I didn’t have the confidence to put up a fuss. Who do you go to? There were no protocols in place. But it made me angry and motivated, and I got a hundred in that game. He is no longer involved in cricket in South Africa, and I don’t feel it’s necessary to go back into that space. I just feel pity for him, and I want to confront the issues of today and not dwell in the past.”
‘I was planted in the system’ – Robin Peterson
Peterson recalled the phase when he was drafted into the Eastern Province. He said that considering there wasn’t a lot of coloured cricketers at the time, he was ‘planted’ into the Province unit.
“I was probably one of the first players of colour to be planted in the system. I say ‘planted’ because it felt like that. When I played for Eastern Province, there were only two players of colour in the team: myself and Garnett Kruger. We were in the minority. Everyone else was white.” he added.
Robin Peterson, who is now working as a coach of a domestic franchise side, also shared his opinion on where he feels that South African cricket needs a lot of improvement.
‘We need a more collaborative and consultative approach because at the moment people are fighting each other in the changerooms. We want a united South Africa and the current policy does not reflect that. The coaches were never consulted and we have to implement it. We can’t be choosing three players of this race and five of that race. We need 11 players of different skills, not just numbers like 6+3. The relevant people need to start being consulted.” Robin Peterson added.
Robin Peterson represented South Africa in 15 Tests, 80 ODIs and 21 T20Is between 2002-2014.