Moeen Ali wearing the ‘Save Gaza’ wristband during the India-England third Test © Getty Images
Moeen Ali wore a band with the words ‘Save Gaza’ during the third Test against India at Southampton. He isn’t the first cricketer to make a political statement on the field of play. Nishad Pai Vaidya enlists other cricketers who have done the same previously.
Moeen Ali, the England batsman was seen wearing a band with the words ‘Save Gaza’ during Day Two of the third Test against India at Southampton. With tensions rising in the Middle East, there have been many demonstrations around the world against Israel for their attack on Gaza. A couple of days ago, a Malaysian cyclist was reprimanded for wearing gloves bearing the words ‘Save Gaza’ during the ongoing Commonwealth Games 2014. The authorities want to keep the event non-controversial.
Moeen, however, is not the first cricketer to make a political statement on the field of play. Here are some of the other instances when cricketers voiced their protest on the field:
1. Teams walk out as protest against Apartheid saga: South Africa played their last Test before isolation in 1970, cutting short international careers of a galaxy of greats. However, in 1973, they protested in tandem against the whole affair. During the Currie Cup match between Rest of South Africa and Transvaal, the players walked out of the field after a ball was bowled. Barry Richards, Graeme Pollock and Mike Procter were a part of that game. They did return to play but had made their statement clear, which was: “We fully support the South African Cricket Association’s application to invite non-whites to tour Australia, if they are good enough; and further subscribe to merit being the only criterion on the cricket field.”
2. Viv Richards wears Rastafarian band: If you have watched the movie Fire in Babylon, you would notice the distinct African pride in the West Indian group. Viv Richards, one of the best batsmen the game has seen, wore the Rastafarian band on his hand as a symbol of their heritage.
3. Andy Flower and Henry Olonga wear black armbands: The 2003 World Cup wasn’t short of controversy, but this was perhaps the biggest. Andy Flower and Henry Olonga’s international careers ended after that tournament as they donned black armbands during Zimbabwe’s first group match of the World Cup. Both were mourning the “death of democracy” in Zimbabwe.
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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)