Current track

Title

Artist

Current show

Saturday Breakfast

7:00 am 11:00 am

Current show

Saturday Breakfast

7:00 am 11:00 am


Holding condemns ‘lame’ excuses as England and Australia stop taking a knee

Written by on 11 September 2020

Former West Indies cricketer Michael Holding, who broke down in tears on live television while discussing racism, has criticised England cricket chiefs and the England, Pakistan and Australian teams for not taking a knee before games.

Holding said the decision and what he called the “lame” excuses given, was out of line with global attempts to raise awareness about racism and inequality.

The Sky Sports commentator cried on air while he and colleague Ebony Rainford-Brent talked about their experiences of racism in July.

Image:
In July, England and West Indies players and the umpires took a knee in support of Black Lives Matter before play started

Holding called for meaningful change in society in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota in May.

His death sparked worldwide public protests and sports teams across the world subsequently took a knee in a show of unprecedented support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

England and West Indies cricketers, along with officials and backroom staff, did so at the start of each of July’s three Tests between the sides, with the home side doing so again during their ODI series against Ireland.

However, the practice stopped when England played six matches against Pakistan in August and September, and it will also not take place in the current limited-overs series against the Australians.

More from Australia

Australia captain Aaron Finch said his team would not take a knee because “education is more important than the protest”.

The skipper said: “For us, we are really proud to play a game where it is celebrated all around the world and anyone can play it. It doesn’t matter what race, what religion, what nationality you are from. Cricket is a game for everyone and I am really proud about that.”

Holding accused the ECB and Finch for offering a “lame” excuse for ending it at a time when many other sports teams, including England’s football team, will continue with the practice.

Premier League drops Black Lives Matter slogan from shirts

Premier League drops Black Lives Matter slogan from shirts

It was added to kits when the season re-started in the summer, following worldwide anti-racism protests

The ECB said in response it was committed to “long-term and sustainable change” and had launched “initiatives that focus on eliminating discrimination from all areas of cricket”.

Holding told Sky Sports News: “Now that the West Indies team has gone home, that doesn’t mean that you still shouldn’t be respecting the message and exactly what it stands for.

George Floyd. Pic: Shutterstock
Image:
George Floyd was killed in custody in Minnesota, sparking worldwide protests and calls for racial justice

“You saw the demonstrations all over the world. It was no longer a black versus white thing, it was a matter of humanity coming together and deciding ‘listen, we need everyone to be treated equally’, so for Pakistan and England then not to take that signal…”

“The ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] came out with a pretty lame statement as far as I’m concerned. I didn’t hear anything at all from Pakistan, neither the players, nor the board and now Australia come here and I see another lame statement from the Australia captain.”

An ECB spokesman said at the time: “The players wore the Black Lives Matter logo and took the knee throughout the West Indies series in solidarity and respect to the message and our rivals.

“It remains a hugely important issue for both the ECB and the players as there is no place for discrimination of any kind in cricket or society.

“The ECB is continuing to develop plans and consult with the game to make cricket more inclusive and diverse, and we recently set out a range of action we are taking to address some of the feedback we’ve received as we seek to drive real change.”

As England and Australia prepare for the first limited-overs match on Friday, Holding said he [Finch] “says he and the England captain [Eoin Morgan] have spoken and they have decided not to take a knee.

Players take the knee during England v West Indies first Test
Image:
The practice of taking a knee took place when England played West Indies, but ended against Pakistan and Australia

“And all he’s saying is he’s proud to be part of a sport where no one is barred from playing regardless of your race, your gender, your ethnicity or religion.

“Well I don’t know any sport where anyone is barred from playing anything at all, so that’s a pretty lame statement.

“What that says to me is that if the apartheid regime in South Africa had allowed multi-racial sport in South Africa and kept the apartheid laws, everything would have been OK. No, everything would not have been OK.

Olympic legend Daley Thompson says he would be ‘taking the knee’ on the podium if he was competing now

“If you don’t want to recognise the movement and don’t want to get involved, just say that, don’t come up with lame excuses.

“Their excuses and reasons they have given are a bit flimsy. They need to come forward with something better than that.

“I would hope that anyone who gets involved in something like this it’s because they want to get involved, so I would hope that people who want to get involved and want to send a signal will voluntarily do what’s right.”

England’s ODI series against Australia, starting today, is live on Sky Sports.