ECB defends players not taking a knee after Holding criticism


The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) says it remains “committed” to diversity and equality after West Indies legend Michael Holding criticised the decision for players to stop taking a knee.

England and West Indies players and staff took a knee before each of the three Tests in July, and players wore a Black Lives Matter logo on their shirts.

But that did not continue into the Pakistan series, or the current Australia limited-overs matches.

Former fast bowler and current Sky Sports commentator Holding, 66, described the reasoning for the decision as “lame” and said the “excuses” given by England and Australia were “a bit flimsy”.

An ECB statement on Thursday read: “Our response to the Black Lives Matter debate has been to view the issue alongside the whole inclusion and diversity space, to ensure that long-term and sustainable change happens for all communities who are not treated equally.

“Our refreshed inclusion and diversity strategy, published at the start of the West Indies series, commits to several comprehensive initiatives that focus on eliminating discrimination from all areas of cricket.

“England’s men’s and women’s players all remain committed to using their reach and influence to keep promoting inclusion and diversity in perpetuity, for the betterment of cricket and sport.

“We understand the importance of symbolism, and its power to keep an issue high on the agenda. Our goal is to ensure we deliver both reach and change.”

Asked about racism before the current Australia series, England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan said: “It shouldn’t exist. There’s no place for it in society.

“And when people talk about it they should feel comfortable in talking about it and coming out. And we want everybody to know that.”

Australia captain Aaron Finch said: “The education around it is more important than the protest.

“Cricket is a game for everyone and I am really proud about that. It doesn’t matter what race, what religion, what nationality you are from.”

Holding, who took 249 wickets in 60 Tests between 1975 and 1987 and was part of arguably the greatest side in cricket history, was widely praised after speaking eloquently about racism following the death of American George Floyd in police custody in May.

Holding told Sky Sports on Thursday: “The ECB came out with a pretty lame statement. I didn’t hear anything from Pakistan – neither the players nor the board.

“Now Australia come here and I see another lame statement from the Australia captain. They need to come forward with something better than that.”

Cricket Australia said it “plays a vital role in respectfully engaging with communities and stakeholders of many diverse cultural backgrounds right across Australia”. (BBC Sport)

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