BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Months after being criticized by cricket great Michael Holding for not taking a knee to acknowledge the Black Lives Matter movement, players in the Australian men’s team have come up with an alternative way to show their support in the fight against racism.
Australia vice-captain Pat Cummins on Monday said the players would form a barefoot circle on the field at the Sydney Cricket Ground before the first game of a limited-overs series against India in Sydney on Nov. 27. India’s team will be invited to join, and it may become a regular way to begin every series.
“I think we could probably put our hands up and say we haven’t done enough in the past and we want to get better,” Cummins said during an online video news conference Monday. “Racism exists. We want to do our bit to try and help stop that and try and be better … this is one small thing we’re going to introduce this summer.
“We’ve come together as a team and think this is the best way we can demonstrate anti-racism as well as celebrating the Indigenous culture here.”
Australia cricket coach Justin Langer said in September he regretted there weren’t more conversations within the squad about taking a knee before matches in the limited-overs tour of England.
Players from the England and West Indies teams took the symbolic position on the field before the start of every match in their three-test series in July, but it didn’t continue during England’s series against Australia.
That brought a stinging rebuke from the great West Indies pace bowler Michael Holding, now a TV commentator, who described the response as “lame.”
The cricketers were part of the first sports team from Australia to travel overseas after the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered international competition in March.
“If it looked like there was a lack of respect, it wasn’t the intention of our team,” Langer said at the time. “When (Holding) says what he says, it’s certainly worth listening to.”
Athletes around the world in recent months have shown their support for BLM and equality in sport with gestures, including taking a knee before games.
Cummins, who was involved in that series in England in September, on Monday said players had come up with various ideas to acknowledge Australia’s First Nations people and use it as a way of making a statement against racism.
Players in the domestic first-class competition and in the women’s Twenty20 tournament formed barefoot circles on the field last week as part of week-long celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture.
Cummins said while the squad had agreed that a barefoot circle would be the best way to make a united statement, any players who elected to take a knee before games would have the support of the team.
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