New Delhi: An old social media post by India pacer Ishant Sharma lent credence to former West Indies captain Darren Sammy's allegation that a racist nickname was used to address him during his IPL stint with Sunrisers Hyderabad for which he is now demanding an apology.
The two-time T20 World Cup-winning captain, while commenting on the protests over African-American George Floyd's death in the US, had spoken about being called 'Kalu' while he was in India. 'Kalu' is a derogatory word to describe black people.
Sammy said having understood the meaning only now, he feels disappointed with his teammates, who addressed him by that nickname during his 2013-2014 stint with SRH.
One of them could be Ishant, who had shared a group picture also featuring Sammy, on May 14, 2014, using 'Kalu' to identify the West Indian in it. The same year, even Sammy called himself 'Kalu' in a social media post to offer birthday wishes to VVS Laxman - the SRH mentor at that time.
"I was listening to Hasan Minhaj (Indian-American comedian and actor) talking about how some of the people in his culture view or describe black people," Sammy said in his latest Instagram post.
"I was angry after listening to him describing a word that they use to describe black people, which he was saying is not in a good way and it was degrading.
"Instantly I remembered when I played for Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2013 and 2014, I was being called the exact same word that he described," he added.
One of Sammy's teammates at that time, former India pacer Irfan Pathan, said he couldn't recall a discussion on any racist comments against the West Indian in 2014.
"There was no discussion as such in the team meetings that racist comments were made against him. But from what I have seen is that our cricketers from south India are frequent targets of racial abuse when they come to play in the North," he told PTI.
"It has happened in Baroda also and we have seen things ourselves and I have intervened to stop it but these have happened with our own cricketers (domestic)," he asserted.
Sammy demanded an apology from his teammates, asking them to reach out to him.
"All those who used to call me that, you guys know yourselves. Reach out to me, let's have a conversation. Because, if it was in any way, shape or form what Minhaj said it meant, I'm very disappointed," he said.
"I will be messaging those people. You guys know who you are. I must admit, at the time in which I was being called that, I did not know what it meant," he added.
"I thought it meant strong stallion or whatever it is, and I saw no problems with it because I was ignorant to the fact of what it meant, I thought it meant something else, something uplifting."
Ishant did not respond to repeated calls and messages, while the franchise too has maintained silence for now.
Sammy, who now plies his trade in the Pakistan Super League, said he distinctly remembers laughter at the very mention of the word.
"Me being a team man, I thought, hey, team-mates are happy, it must be something funny. You can understand my frustration and my anger when it was pointed out to me that it wasn't funny at all, it was degrading," he said.
"I've had great memories in all the dressing rooms I've been in, as a T20 player, as a leader in a dressing room, as a captain, I've always been one to build up a relationship or build up a team, not bring it down.
"So, all those who used to call me that, you guys know yourselves, some of you have my numbers, you have me on Instagram, on Twitter, wherever. Reach out to me, let's have a conversation," he added.
Sammy reiterated that he is very disappointed as he thought of his teammates as family.
"I'll still be angry, and deserve an apology from you guys, because I saw all of you guys as my brothers. So, talk to me, reach out to me, please clear the air," he said.
Ishant, in another past Instagram post, had described Sammy has one of the best human beings he knows and also a close friend.
Sammy's West Indies teammate Chris Gayle had also spoken about facing racist jibes during his T20 stints globally.
The campaign against racism has picked up globally following Floyd's death at the hands of a white police officer. The incident has led to violent protests in the US.