England players will mark the start of first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s on June 2 most likely with a ‘moment of unity’ gesture to protest against discrimination although England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has also given them permission to take a knee. The ‘moment of unity’ gesture requires players to stand together quietly before start of the game.
“Like all of us, they feel very strongly about all discrimination,” said Ashley Giles, director of cricket, ECB. “There is a list as long as our arm of the different types. If it was an individual statement of some sort, we’d support that — they are adults. But I do think they are keen on doing something as a team,” Giles was quoted as saying by the ‘Daily Mail’.
Protests against racial discrimination picked up last year as the ‘Black Lives Matter movement’, that was started in 2013, gathering momentum after the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, United States of America, in May last year.
Last summer, England and West Indies players had taken a knee in support of ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement before start of play in the first Test match at Southampton on July 8 as international cricket returned after a four-month absence caused by Covid-19.
However, the practice was discontinued after the one-day series against Ireland in August. England’s subsequent series, against Pakistan and Australia, saw the absence of the gesture leading to criticism from former West Indies fast bowler and commentator Michael Holding.
“I’m a little bit disappointed that since the England-Ireland series, when they did take a knee, I haven’t seen any of the teams take a knee,” Holding had said on his YouTube channel in September last year. “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.”
During India’s tour of Australia late last year, both the teams’ players formed a barefoot circle ahead of the first One-day International in Sydney on November 27. The gesture was meant to recognise the aborigines, the original inhabitants of Australia.
“Australia and India take part in a Barefoot Circle to respectfully acknowledge our First Nations people, the traditional owners of the land, and pay their respects to the country #AUSvIND,” tweeted Cricket Australia on the occasion back then.