South Africa players make anti-racism gesture before Sri Lanka Test

South Africa players raise their fists in support of Black Lives Matter movement before Sri Lanka Test after they were criticised by their own board for not taking a knee in England series

  • Coach Mark Boucher confirmed players would make an anti-racism gesture 
  • South Africa players released statement clarifying stance ahead of the Test
  • Lungi Ngidi was criticised for urging his team to ‘make a stand against racism’ 
  • South Africa interim cricket board criticised initial decision not to take the knee 

South African cricketers raised their fists in an anti-racism gesture at the start of their Test match against Sri Lanka, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The players had been criticised for not taking the knee ahead of the recent series against England; as had been done by other sporting teams this year following the death of George Floyd in May.

A statement released in November said the squad had reached a unanimous decision not to kneel and that their commitment to anti-racism was a ‘process, not an event’. 

South African cricketers raised their fists in support of the Black Lives Matter movement

The South African team performed the anti-racism gesture ahead of the Sri Lanka Test match 

However, they issued a statement earlier on Boxing Day which sought to clarify their stance on the issue: ‘We as the Proteas team have, on multiple occasions, declared our unmistakable support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign. 

‘We have openly discussed the topic on numerous occasions with the media and amongst each other and we are committed to continuing to do this work together.’

Coach Mark Boucher confirmed before the Test match that the players had decided to express support for inclusion; after South Africa’s interim board issued a statement which addressed their concern over the team not taking the knee when they returned to international cricket last month. 

‘We’ve had a lot of discussions since we’ve come into the bubble about this, especially after what the board statement was and the guys have come up with a meaningful gesture,’ Boucher said.   

South African cricket coach Mark Boucher confirmed there would be an anti-racism gesture

The interim board was disappointed that South Africa didn’t join other international sides such as England, West Indies and New Zealand in taking the knee and showing the world ‘all of us are together in opposing racism at very turn,’ and encouraged the team to explore alternative ways to demonstrate their opposition to racism. 

South African cricket’s collision with BLM started when Lungi Ngidi stated that he hoped the team would join the rest of the world in ‘making a stand’ against racism. Ngidi was subsequently criticised by four former white players. 

South African cricketers and support staff however, did take the knee during their exhibition 3TC match in July, but opted no to do so when they played as a national team and didn’t explain their reasoning.

Their decision was criticised from within the country, where the legacy of apartheid remains strong, and has proved to be a divisive and distracting issue for the team. 

Lungi Ngidi was criticised for urging the South African team to take an anti-racism stance

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