‘Anti-racism movement in cricket needs meaning, substance’

Meanwhile, each SA players have themselves to decide the gesture they want to perform to support the BLM movement on their tour to the West Indies.

South Africa will leave it up to individual players to decide whether to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement ahead of the first Test against West Indies in Saint Lucia starting on Thursday.

The home side have confirmed they will take a knee before the game, but South Africa captain Dean Elgar says his team will allow each player to make up his own mind about what to do.

The South African players have previously worn black armbands or raised their right fists in a salute, but have refused to take a knee, a stance which drew criticism, including from the interim Cricket South Africa board.

“It has been quite a journey for our side with regards this topic,” Elgar told reporters on Wednesday. “We had a meeting with West Indies Cricket and gave them our version of how we would support their campaign.

“We have given our players the right to perform whichever gesture they want to. If they are comfortable with taking the knee, they may. If a player wants to use our previous gesture, which was to raise the right first, they are entitled to do that.”

Elgar admits some team mates may decide not to make any gesture at all, but believes it is important to support West Indies Cricket in their endeavour to highlight BLM.

“There are players that aren’t comfortable serving a gesture, but we have come to the West Indies to respect their campaign. We have come here on the back of a lot of long chats in our squad and it has maybe taken us a year to reach this point,” he said.

“If players aren’t comfortable (doing anything), they must still stand to attention so we can respect the campaign.”

Anti-racism has again become a subject of discussion in the cricketing world following recent events in England, where Ollie Robinson has been suspended for historic racist tweets and a few other players also under investigation for old posts.

West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder reckons the anti-racism movement in cricket needs more than just players taking a knee before matches in order for it to have some meaning and substance.

Almost a year ago, West Indies became one of the first two international teams to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter, a movement that gained momentum after the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer last year.

“I had a few discussions about it and I feel as though some people feel it’s now a watered-down action taken before the games. I would like to see some new initiative to spark the movement again,” Holder was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.com.

“I don’t want people to just think we’re taking the knee because Black Lives Matter, that’s the tradition and that’s the norm. It has to have some substance, it has to have some meaning behind it.”

“I would like to see some more emphasis, some more thought process going into actually re-sparking or re-engaging the movement so it can actually hold some substance,” he added.              

The former West Indies captain urged athletes to do more for the anti-racism movement while speaking ahead of their series against South Africa. What Holder wants can be achieved through greater awareness and action, he feels.

Holder indicated that more could be in store from their team this year as far as amplifying the movement was concerned.

“Maybe, that’s something we can do as a group. Maybe, a video collage and a video message, just to reiterate what the movement stands for and what it’s all about,” he said.


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