Images of the South African men’s cricket team have exposed the side’s contrasting views on a matter that has swept across the globe.
Images of the South African men’s cricket team at the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates have exposed how the side’s players are still divided over the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Following last year’s BLM protests in the United States, athletes from around the world have taken a knee before sporting contests in support of the movement.
But South Africa’s cricketers are seemingly split on whether or not to participate.
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Ahead of their T20 World Cup opener against Australia on the weekend, Proteas players were seen standing, kneeling or raising a fist during the BLM protest.
South African players of colour knelt and raised a fist, while paceman Anrich Nortje and wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen distanced themselves from the movement by standing with hands behind their backs.
Meanwhile, all Australian players took a knee. In the tournament’s showcase match on Sunday, India knelt while Pakistan didn’t.
According to News Corp, some white South African players said the gesture was “against their religious beliefs” with claims that “a good Christian man only takes a knee for two people – his wife and his God”.
Last week, South Africa’s former team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee expressed his disappointment that the team could not agree on a gesture.
“Unfortunately, some current players appear to be misinformed and believe taking the knee is supporting the notion that black lives matter more,” he said at the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings.
“They need to be educated so that they appreciate that taking the knee is all about a stand against racism and discrimination and supporting the notion that black lives matter as much.
“It is a pity that the Proteas team have not adopted a unified approach to the issue and highlights that even though we have been having discussions for a number of years already, these discussions need to continue, because we still have some way to go to get all our people to fully appreciate the injustices of the past.”
Former South African cricketer Boeta Dippenaar recently said the BLM movement was “nothing more than leftist political movement”.
The Australian men’s cricket team took a knee in support of the BLM movement for the first time in July, during a white-ball series against the West Indies.
“As a team we’ll continue to educate ourselves, provide support where possible, and create awareness for those who are victims of racial injustice, and/or discrimination in any form,” Cricket Australia said in a statement at the time.
“We kneel alongside our West Indian friends to recognise and show our support of all those who have been victims of racial injustice and/or discrimination, past and present.”
Last year, West Indies cricket great Michael Holding blasted the Australians for failing to take a significant stand against racism.
Holding’s remarks came after Australian one-day captain Aaron Finch said the team would not take a knee during a white-ball tour of England in August 2020 because the side was not educated enough on the matter.
“Education is very important … but you can’t just say that education is the most important thing and do nothing else. We have still got to keep the awareness going,” Holding said.
“How long is that education going to take? This thing has been going on for centuries. Are you just going to educate everyone and change the world in a week or two? You have still got to keep the awareness going.
“That’s a pretty lame statement.”
Several WBBL players and staff chose to take a knee before matches in last summer’s T20 tournament, but Sydney Sixers all-rounder Ash Gardner had no interest in joining the movement.
“And that’s why I haven’t done that, and neither has my team. I think they’re in support of my decision.
“The whole WBBL is probably on different pages.
“Everyone stands up against racism if you’re a decent human being, but the whole taking a knee thing is more towards institutional racism, which is why it’s so prevalent in America at the moment.
“Of course I’m against racism — Australia can be a very racist country, especially to my people.
“But taking a knee probably wasn’t something I was willing to do.”