South African cricketers refuse to bend the knee.23 November 2020
South Africa’s cricket team, due to start a series of six limited-over matches against England later this week, have decided not to take a knee before any of these matches.
A team decision was made that it’s ‘not something we need continue to do’, according to its coach Mark Boucher, a near-mythical top performer for his country over more than a decade till a flying bail blinded one eye.
As South Africa prepared for Friday’s first Twenty20 international at Newlands, the poster-boy for South Africa’s feared fast-bowling attack, Kagiso Rabada, said: “We spoke about it as a group and there are a lot of things to look at.”
Kagiso Rabada said that, despite South Africa not taking a knee, he supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Black Lives Matter will always be relevant and something I’ll always believe in but Mark has stated we won’t be kneeling and that’s how it is. It was a team decision not to kneel and I think to look at gender-based violence and devote ourselves to another cause.”
It is a subject that caused division in South Africa last summer after West Indies and England took the knee ahead of their three Tests and Rabada’s fellow fast bowler Lungi Ngidi leant his weight to the movement.
That led to criticism from a number of former South African cricketers, led by Pat Symcox and Boeta Dippenaar. They said Ngidi should concentrate on matters closer to home — like the issue of murders of white farmers by black attackers.
Rabada, outstanding again in this year’s Indian Premier League, chose his words carefully yesterday but said Black Lives Matter was something ‘I will one hundred per cent always stand for’ and talked about wider social responsibilities facing all sportsmen.+2
South Africa coach Mark Boucher said they didn’t need to ‘continue’ with the gesture
‘As a sportsman, spreading the right message is important,’ he said. ‘It is a huge responsibility, the things you say and stand up for. We have seen the roles sportsmen have played in political movements during lockdown and I have expressed myself on twitter and on a few podcasts. I’m not getting in too hectically but I’m throwing my two cents in.’
Rabada also talked about the extra precautions South Africa have had to take to ensure the six white ball matches against England go ahead after two unnamed members of their squad tested positive for Covid-19.
‘It’s been quite bizarre actually,’ he added. ‘We have to train in groups now. There’s a non-contact group and a close contact one.
‘It doesn’t mean anyone is positive, it’s just taking that extra precaution. That’s how it’s been. The team are doing well at sticking to the strict rules in place.’