England players will mark the start of the first test against New Zealand at Lord’s on June 2, most likely with a gesture of “unity” in protest of discrimination, although the English and Welsh Cricket Council (ECB) has also allowed them to take a knee.
The “moment of unity” gesture requires players to stand quietly together before the game begins.
“Like all of us, they feel very strongly about any discrimination,” said Ashley Giles, director of cricket at the ECB.
“There’s a list, as long as it’s our shoulder of the different types. If it was an individual statement, we’d support it – they’re adults. But I think they want to do something like a team,” Giles was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
Protests against racial discrimination intensified last year as the Black Lives Matter movement, which began in 2013, gained momentum after the assassination of George Floyd in Minnesota, USA, in May last year.
Last summer, England and the West Indies took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before the game began in the first test match in Southampton on July 8, when international cricket returned after a four-month absence caused by Covid-19.
However, the practice was stopped after a one-day series against Ireland in August.
England’s next series against Pakistan and Australia saw a lack of gesture, leading to criticism from former bowling alley and West India commentator Michael Holding.
“I’m a little disappointed that in the England-Ireland series, when they took a knee, I didn’t see any team take a knee,” Holding said on his YouTube channel last September.
“Now that the West Indies team has come home, that doesn’t mean you still don’t have to respect the message and exactly what it represents.”
During India’s tour of Australia at the end of last year, the players of both teams formed a barefoot round before the first One-Day International in Sydney on November 27. The gesture was intended to recognize the aborigines, the original inhabitants of Australia.
“Australia and India are participating in a circle barefoot to respectfully recognize our people of the First Nations, the traditional owners of the land, and to pay their respects to the country #AUSvIND,” Cricket Australia wrote in a tweet on the occasion.