West Indies fast bowling legend Michael Holding has unloaded on England and Australian cricket teams for their refusal to take a knee as a symbolic support for the Black Lives Matter. He has dismissed their reasoning behind not doing so as “lame” and advised them to come up with a more direct answer. Also Read - Priority is to Have England Series in India: BCCI President Sourav Ganguly
At the peak of the BLM movement, Holding’s emotional speech against the menace of racism in sports and society went viral on social media. The cricketing world also showed its support to the cause with England and West Indies cricketers taking a knee during their Test series in July. Also Read - IPL 2020: Shahid Afridi Rues Absence of Pakistan Players in IPL, Says Players Like Babar Azam Missing Out on Big Platform
The teams also wore jerseys sporting the BLM logo which was also displayed by the Premier League clubs in England. Also Read - ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League Latest Points Table Update: England Maintain Top Spot Despite Series Defeat
However, once West Indies left, England dropped the gesture and the BLM logo as well.
Pakistan too didn’t take a knee either and Australian captain Aaron Finch has argued that education is more important than any symbolic gesture.
However, Holding has hit out against their arguments.
“I don’t care about the politics behind Black Lives Matter. I care about those three words: black lives matter. It is time for the world to accept that black lives matter and move towards that agreement and realisation,” Holding said on Sky Sports.
“When Pakistan and England did not make that signal the ECB came out with a lame statement. I heard nothing from Pakistan. Now Australia have come here and issued a lame statement from the captain.
“He (Finch) said he and the England captain have spoken. They have decided not to take a knee. All he is saying is he is glad he is part of a sport where nobody is barred from playing because of your race, gender, ethnicity and religion. If you don’t want to recognise the movement then say that and don’t come up with lame excuses. I know that the excuses and reasons are a bit flimsy. They need to come forward with something better than that,” Holding added.
Finch had in fact said he’s proud to be part of a sport that doesn’t bar participation based on race, religion or country.
Holding countered his argument with the example of the apartheid regime in South Africa. “What Aaron Finch’s comments said to me is that as long as sport is multi-racial then everything is OK. So if the apartheid regime in South Africa had allowed multi-racial sport but kept the apartheid laws then everything would have been OK? No it wouldn’t have,” he said.
He continued, “Education is important but you can’t just do nothing else. You have to keep the awareness going. Someone sees a person kneeling and they ask why. It keeps it going and going. The England football team have continued to do it. All over the world people are doing it. So why have the cricket team stopped? I can’t accept any flimsy excuse.”
Holding has called for a sustained effort. “I think people need to keep on recognising that things need to change. You can’t just do something for a week or two and think: ‘OK, I’ve done my bit.’ If that’s your attitude don’t bother doing it at all,” he said.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) issued a statement following Holding’s comments.
“England’s men’s and women’s players all remain committed to using their reach and influence to keep promoting inclusion and diversity in perpetuity, for the betterment of cricket and sport. We understand the importance of symbolism, and its power to keep an issue high on the agenda, our goal is to ensure we deliver both reach and change,” ECB said.