T20 World Cup: Cricket South Africa Directs Players To Collectively ‘Take The Knee’

Johannesburg:  The Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Tuesday said that it has issued a directive to the national men’s team to adopt a consistent and united stance against racism by ‘taking the knee’ prior to the start of their remaining matches of the ongoing T20 World Cup.

The board recognised concerns that ‘the different postures taken by team members in support of the BLM initiative created an unintended perception of disparity or lack of support for the initiative’.

“After considering all relevant issues, including the position of the players, the Board felt that it was imperative for the team to be seen taking a united and consistent stand against racism, especially given SA’s history,” the CSA said in a statement.

“Several other teams at the World Cup have adopted a consistent stance against the issue, and the Board felt it is time for all SA players to do the same,” it added.

Notably, South Africa have adopted varied stances towards supporting the anti-racism movement since the BLM movement re-emerged last year, but the national team has not taken a knee together. Till now, it was decided that team members would make their own decision about whether to take a knee, raise a fist or stand to attention to support the initiative.

However, CSA have changed their mind after South Africa’s opening T20 World Cup match against Australia, where Australia took a knee but South Africa maintained their three options.

Other countries like England, West Indies, India and Scotland have also taken a knee so far, while Pakistan held their hands to their hearts. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have not made any gestures yet but Bangladesh have previously taken a knee.

The CSA board directive comes at the same time as the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings are being conducted, aimed at investigating the extent of racial discrimination in South African cricket. Several former players have made allegations of exclusion and told stories of being othered within the team.

“A commitment to overcoming racism is the glue that should unite, bind and strengthen us. Race should not be manipulated to amplify our weaknesses. Diversity can and should find expression in many facets of our daily lives, but not when it comes to taking a stand against racism,” CSA board chair Lawson Naidoo said.