Ish Sodhi wants to promote diversity in cricket more as game opens up discussions around racism

New Zealand spinner Ish Sodhi says the Black Caps are a prime example of diversity in cricket but more needs to be done at a community level to eradicate racism in the game – and he’s willing to do whatever it take to help.

Black Caps spinner Ish Sodhi bowling against Pakistan in second T20 at Eden Park in Auckland. Source: Photosport

In recent years, racism in cricket has become more of a frequent topic, and the latest chapter saw a powerful message issued by former Windies bowler-turned-commentator Michael Holding ahead of the first Test between England and the West Indies last week.

England also wore Black Lives Matter logos on their collars in the match as part of the social movement currently being felt around the world.

Sodhi told Newstalk ZB it’s a matter that’s really important to him.

"Diversity for me is something I've grown up with and it's something I'm lucky to have been exposed to at such a young age," Sodhi said.

"I know I probably haven't done enough as I would like and expect myself to do, in terms of getting in the community and engaging with different ethnicities."

Sodhi was born in Punjab, India, before moving to South Auckland with his parents when he was four.

He has since become a regular feature in the New Zealand team in limited over matches and even reached the No.1 ranking for T20I bowlers in 2018.

During his time as a Black Cap, he said he’s been part of a diverse group.

"It's pretty cool that I'm a player of Indian origin who represents New Zealand. And I'm not the only one. We've had Jeet Raval, Ajaz Patel, we've had Mark Chapman and he's got a Chinese mum, we've got players born in South Africa like Neil Wagner and BJ Watling, so the diversity is there."

But Sodhi said more could be done from his position.

"It's just a matter of engaging more of those people at a grassroots to show them that there is a pathway for people of all origins to make cricket a career."

New Zealand Cricket was faced with its own racism issue recently when English quick Jofra Archer was racially abused by a member of the crowd in Mount Maunganui.

The culprit was eventually found and banned from attending international and domestic cricket matches in New Zealand for two years – a move Sodhi said should send a message.

"There's no space for that, and when someone comes to our country we want to create the best experience for them. Incidents like that get dealt with pretty quickly," said Sodhi.