Proteas

CSA interim board a 'little disappointed' by Proteas not taking knee for BLM - Andre Odendaal

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Professor Andre Odendaal.
Professor Andre Odendaal.
(Bertram Malgas/Gallo Images)
  • Cricket South Africa interim board member Professor Andre Odendaal said they were disappointed with the men's national team not taking the knee during last year's limited over series against England.
  • The limited overs series was South Africa's first international engagement in the Covid-19 era.
  • They also did not take the knee during the Sri Lanka Test series, but raised their fists. 

Cricket South Africa’s interim board member Professor Andre Odendaal said the interim board was disappointed with the national team not taking a knee during the England limited overs series last year.

While the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement - which is symbolised by the taking of the knee after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin used his knee to suffocate George Floyd in May last year - took place during the height of the Covid-19 first wave when the Proteas weren’t in action, the knee wasn’t taken when they returned to action against England in late November last year.

They wore black armbands instead. 

They also did not take a knee when they returned to Test action against Sri Lanka on Boxing Day at SuperSport Park, but raised their fists before the start of play.

In the 3Team Cricket game that took place in July last year, the players and officials involved took the knee and wore black armbands

The West Indies and England were the first teams to take the knee, while other countries used other means of symbolism to make a note of BLM. 

Odendaal, a revered historian and veteran cricket administrator, was speaking at the Ombudsman of the Cricket for Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) press conference, a position that is held by human rights lawyer Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza. 

“We were a little disappointed that our team did not take the knee, which we explained to them at the time. We had discussed it by the time the English were arriving and we supported the taking of the knee. The chairperson wrote to the team and the director of cricket,” Odendaal said.

"The answer was, while the team supported the stand against racism, it had been through a pre-season course of bonding and discussing these matters. They decided on a different approach in which as a group they bought into.

"The board, while maintaining its own position given the strength of the BLM and the action of the taking of the knee throughout the world and with the history of our country, thought it would be most appropriate. It was not something as the board we decreed should happen.'

"It brought across to us as the IB that CSA should have a broad policy that all components should buy into and we should continue to talk this through with the players and the team."

The Proteas’ inaction with regards to not taking the knee during the England series drew sharp criticism from former England captain Nasser Hussain.

Hussain, who is of Indian descent and was born in Chennai before moving to England at a young age, was on SuperSport’s commentary team at the time.

"At the start of our cricket coverage in the UK, Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent made a very strong political statement about BLM and it went down very well around the world. Someone like Kagiso Rabada or the SA team taking a knee would have had a huge impact," Hussain said in commentary before the first T20 against England started.

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