Cricket South Africa has reiterated its undivided support in the fight against racism in the country, saying the decision not to kneel was collectively adopted by the team.
After more than eight months, the Proteas will play their first international match against England on Friday with the subject of taking a knee squarely in the spotlight.
Both Proteas head coach Mark Boucher and star bowler Kagiso Rabada defended the team’s decision not to kneel in these matchups. Many in the South African cricket fraternity are wondering why, given the full support most Proteas players showed in light of the Black Lives Matter movement a couple of months ago.
In an official statement, issued on behalf of the Proteas team on Wednesday afternoon, CSA asked that the team’s decision be respected and accepted, based on the clear stance the team took up to stand against any form of racial and equality injustices in South Africa.
‘As a team, we have unanimously chosen not to take the knee at the upcoming matches, but to continue to work together in our personal, team and public spaces to dismantle racism,’ read the statement.
‘This decision was taken by the team collectively, after deep dialogue and attentive consideration. This is not a decision compelled on us by either our management or our coaches. Let us be clear, our team decision on not taking the knee does not indicate that we do not care about racism, racial equality, or justice. Now, more than ever, we are committed to this work.
‘Our first job is to play cricket for the country but we are also citizens of this country. The Proteas team is a community within the wider community of South Africa. The conversations that are happening in the country as a whole are conversations we must be engaging with as a team. The issues that are facing the country as a whole are issues that must matter to us as a team.
‘Likewise, the actions and decisions we take as a team have impact on the country as a whole. We do not take this responsibility lightly. We ask in turn that our wider community honours the process we have engaged in over the last six months, the hours of rigorous conversation and dialogue we have had with one another, the many workshops we have participated in sharing our stories, our experiences and our opinions, and the ongoing commitments we have made to continue this journey. This work has been honest, vulnerable, and personal. We are building commitments to one another and demonstrating ways of engaging that we simply never have before as a team. We are building a team culture based on open and frank conversations, creating real and sustainable change, as well as embodying our team values of Belonging, Empathy and Respect.’
In line with president Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the whole of South Africa will dedicate five days of national mourning for Covid-19 and gender-based violence victims, the Proteas have decided to rather wear black armbands in the matches against England.