England women set to take a knee for Black Lives Matter against West Indies

England women set to take a knee for Black Lives Matter against West Indies

Heather Knight’s England players look set to take a knee before their upcoming games against West Indies amid criticism from Michael Holding that the men’s team abandoned the Black Lives Matter message too quickly.

Holding, the former West Indies fast bowler and Sky commentator, highlighted how Joe Root’s Test side stopped performing the pre-match gesture “as soon as West Indies went home” and queried whether they had previously “jumped on the bandwagon”.

It saw the England and Wales Cricket Board issue a statement that stressed its players “remain committed to using their reach and influence to keep promoting inclusion and diversity in perpetuity, for the betterment of cricket and sport”.

However the gesture is expected to resume when England’s women take on West Indies over five Twenty20s in Derby from 21 September, with Knight said to be planning a meeting to discuss the subject with her fellow captain, Stafanie Taylor, during the buildup to the series.

This move may be viewed by some as simply confirming Holding’s suggestion that England are only prepared to take a knee when playing West Indies (albeit Eoin Morgan’s ODI side did so before their series against Ireland at the end of July).

However the series, which is being televised by Sky and sees the broadcast of the third match also shared with BBC, is the first opportunity for the women’s team to show their support for the wider global message after a summer of inactivity.

South Africa and India were the intended summer tourists only for both boards to cancel because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with West Indies then agreeing to step in as late replacements last month.

The West Indies men’s team take a knee at Old Trafford during their Test series against England.

Speaking earlier in the summer, Knight said: “It is massively important – I’ve been following the news and what is going on. As a women’s team, we’re not massively diverse, which needs to change. The ECB are aware of that.

“Cricket knows it needs to attract more females, more diverse groups of people and that links in with the Black Lives Matter movement.”

It is yet to be confirmed whether Knight’s players will wear the BLM logo designed by Alisha Hosannah, the partner of the Watford footballer Troy Deeney; England’s men did so initially against West Indies, before it was replaced by one to promote the Ruth Strauss foundation during the third Test.

But the West Indies’ shirts will continue to carry it, both during this women’s series in England and when their men’s side travel to New Zealand before Christmas for three T20s and two Test matches.

Johnny Grave, chief executive of Cricket West Indies, told the Guardian: “Our players intend to continue wearing the BLM logo on their shirts and raising awareness of racial injustice, not just in cricket but society overall.”

Holding, who spoke powerfully about racism before the first Test of the summer, was also critical of Pakistan’s silence on the subject during their tour and described Australia’s reasons for not taking a knee as “lame” and “flimsy”.

Finch had previously stated he felt “education around [BLM] is more important than the protest” and expressed his pride that cricket “is a game for everyone”.

Finch was not asked about Holding’s criticism at the toss before the first ODI in Manchester, while a spokesperson for Cricket Australia stated that the governing body was not intending to officially respond.