Fast-bowling great Michael Holding has criticised the England and Australian cricket teams for not taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Movement during their ongoing limited-overs series.
Players, officials and support staff on both sides performed the gesture of kneeling ahead of all three Tests against West Indies and the ODIs against Ireland but have not done so before the matches versus Pakistan and Australia.
This has not gone down well with the West Indies pace great who recently gave a powerful testimony about his experience of racism in sport.
“Now that the West Indies team has gone home, that doesn’t mean that you still shouldn’t be respecting the message and what it stands for,” Holding told Sky Sports.
“Yes, (racism) is more acute in the United States than in most other places but people around the entire world took on the mantle of spreading the word and getting this message out that it is time for equality and time for equal justice.”
Holding has been a vocal advocate of the movement that gained momentum with the killing of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis after being pinned to the ground by a white police officer for allegedly using a counterfeit bill.
A wave of protests followed and sportspersons from across the world lent their voices in the movement.
Holding added, “It was no longer just a black versus white thing…so for Pakistan and England not to then take that signal…neither team did it and the ECB came out with a pretty lame statement, as far as I am concerned.
“All over the world it was no longer a black versus white thing, it was a matter of humanity coming together and deciding ‘listen, we need everyone to be treated equally’.”
Australia skipper Aaron Finch had said before the series that his team would not take the knee because “education is more important than the protest”.
Holding did not agree with Finch’s viewpoint.
“(Finch) is saying that he’s glad he is part of a sport where no one is barred from playing, irrespective of your race, your gender, your ethnicity, your religion,” the two-time World Cup winning player said.
“Well, I don’t know any sport where anyone is barred from playing because of anything at all. So that’s a pretty lame statement.
“I’m not here to try to force people to do what they do not want to do. If you think you do not need to sympathise with and recognise the movement, just say that. Don’t come up with lame excuses,” he added.