Cricket’s big racism blow up
Australia coach Justin Langer has admitted his side could have given more thought to taking a knee during their tour of England following criticism from West Indies great Michael Holding.
Langer's admission comes as West Indies great Darren Sammy poured fuel on the simmering situation by suggesting the England Cricket Board made token gestures in support of the Black Lives Matter movement during the West Indies tour of the UK.
England and West Indies adopted the gesture at the start of each of their three Tests in July to show their support for the campaign against racial injustice.
The practice was repeated during England's one-day matches against Ireland but not in subsequent series against Pakistan and Australia.
Holding, an outstanding fast bowler in the 1970s and 1980s, accused England bosses and Australia captain Aaron Finch of making "lame" statements over not taking a knee.
England fast bowler Jofra Archer said Holding had not "done his research", with the Barbados-born quick insisting the team and officials remained committed to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Langer admitted on Tuesday night (AEST) his team would have done more in hindsight.
"In terms of taking a knee, to be completely honest, we could have talked more about it perhaps leading up to the first game," Langer said.
"What we do talk about within the team, was that we want to have a response that is sustained and powerful, and that it can go not just in one action but a sustained period - not just throughout this series and the (Australian) summer but throughout time.
"I just hope if it looked like there was a lack of respect, it wasn't the intention of our team. We were very aware of it."
Langer's comments follow captain Aaron Finch's clear message of why the Aussie team elected not to take a knee.
"The education around it is more important than the protest," Finch said.
"I have spoken to Eoin and we are not going to do specific gestures like it as happened in the past.
"For us, we are really proud to play a game where it is celebrated all around the world and anyone can play it.
"It doesn't matter what race, what religion, what nationality you are from. Cricket is a game for everyone and I am really proud about that."
There was no protest during the three-match T20 series - which England won 2-1 - and Holding says the Aussies' excuses don't stand up.
"Now that the West Indies team has gone home, that doesn't mean that you still shouldn't be respecting the message and exactly what it stands for," Holding said.
"It is not a matter of which one is more important. Education is very important … but you can't just say that education is the most important thing and do nothing else. We have still got to keep the awareness going.
"How long is that education going to take? This thing has been going on for centuries. Are you just going to educate everyone and change the world in a week or two? You have still got to keep the awareness going.
"He (Finch) is saying is that he's glad that he is part of a sport where no one is barred from playing, irrespective of your race, your gender, your ethnicity, your religion.
"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 and what that says to me, actually, is that if the apartheid regime in South Africa had allowed multi-racial sport in South Africa and kept the apartheid laws then everything would have been OK."
His comments were earlier this month echoed by Sammy, who posted a message on Instagram suggesting the West Indies were used so that the ECB could fulfil its TV broadcast contracts - before the Black Lives Matter movement was put back in the shadows for England's series with Pakistan in August.
"Been saying that for the longest while unless we can help them we not needed," Sammy posted at the time.
"Only 2months ago they needed a black team to save them 280million. Only then black lives mattered."
Holding, who commentates for Sky Sports in England, became highly emotional during live TV segments during the West Indies series when reflecting on his own experiences of racism. He broke down in tears as viewers were stunned by some of the most captivating TV cricket has ever witnessed.
Langer was speaking ahead of Wednesday night's third and deciding one-day international against England at Old Trafford.
Australia star batsman Steve Smith has yet to feature after missing the first two games after being hit on the head during practice last Thursday.
Team management have repeatedly stated Smith has been rested purely as a precaution despite passing two concussion tests.
Langer said Smith was "tracking in the right direction" ahead of the decider.
"Fingers crossed. We know what a great player he is," said the coach.
- with AFP
Originally published as Cricket's big racism blow up