Proteas to take knee for Black Lives Matter? 'Players can perform any gesture they choose'

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Dean Elgar (Gallo)
Dean Elgar (Gallo)
  • Proteas Test captain Dean Elgar said players who are comfortable taking the knee can do so for Thursday's first Test against the West Indies in St Lucia.
  • South Africa's approach to commemorating the Black Lives Matter movement hasn't been filled with clarity.
  • Elgar said they have to respect the West Indies badge.

Proteas Test captain Dean Elgar says his players will be able to take the knee ahead of the first Test against the West Indies on Thursday if they are comfortable doing so.

South Africa haven't taken the knee in any of their international engagements since Black Lives Matter (BLM) came to the fore in light of George Floyd's death at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis last year.

The West Indies, meanwhile, have led the way in the cricket world with the gesture and are expected to do so again at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia on Thursday where who South Africa will be playing Test cricket in the Caribbean for the first time in 11 years. 

Elgar, who will be leading the team for the third time as Test captain but in his first outing as the fully installed leader, said there was a meeting with the West Indies team leadership where matters were fully ventilated.

"We've given the players the right to perform whichever gesture they want to perform. If players are comfortable taking the knee, they may," Elgar said.

"If a player wants to do the previous gesture that we had, which is raising the right fist, they are also entitled to do that.

"If players aren't comfortable, they still need to stand to attention so that they respect the campaign that is rolling out."

South Africa's approach to the BLM matter has been a haphazard one on and off the field as compared to the West Indies' clarity on taking the knee.

On the field, the Proteas wore black armbands during the T20 series against England last December in honour of lives lost during the Covid-19 pandemic and victims of Gender-Based Violence.

They raised their fists at the start of the first Test against Sri Lanka on Boxing Day while the knee was taken during the 3-Team Cricket Tournament in July last year. 

Off the field, the BLM matter also hasn't been handled with the best of dexterity since paceman Lungi Ngidi came under fire from former white Proteas players when he suggested that a conversation around BLM should take place.

The uproar from that statement eventually led to the formation of the Cricket for Social Justice and Nation-building initiative headed by Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza that was supposed to start last month, but has been postponed to July.

Elgar, who only plays Test cricket at the moment, said they can't come to the West Indies and disrespect their heritage and their badge.

"We have come a long way with this topic and there are players who aren't comfortable with a gesture and we've also come to the West Indies to respect their campaign as well," Elgar said.

"It's taken us a year to reach this point where every player has a right, has a sense of belonging within this team and we've come to the Caribbean not to disrespect the West Indies badge."

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