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England v Australia

‘Lame excuse’ – Michael Holding slams England and Australia for not taking a knee

Holding knee
by Wisden Staff 2-minute read

Michael Holding has criticised the Australia and England teams for deciding to not take a knee, labelling the reason given by Aaron Finch as “lame excuse” and a “bit flimsy”.

The worldwide Black Lives Matter movement prompted players and match officials from both teams to take a knee during the West Indies team’s visit to England, and the England-Ireland ODI series that followed.

However, the gesture was stopped altogether starting with England’s Test series against Pakistan, and hasn’t been continued for the England-Australia limited-overs series as well, as Finch had stated during an interview with The Telegraph.

“The education around it is more important than the protest,” Finch said. “I have spoken to Eoin [Morgan] and we are not going to do specific gestures like it has 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.”

Holding criticised Finch for his comments and also questioned the ECB for failing to continue with the gesture before every game.

“I don’t care about the politics behind Black Lives Matter,” Holding told Sky Sports. “I care about those three words: black lives matter. It is time for the world to accept that black lives matter and move towards that agreement and realisation.

“When Pakistan and England did not make that signal the ECB came out with a lame statement. I heard nothing from Pakistan. Now Australia have come here and issued a lame statement from the captain.

“He said he and the England captain have spoken. They have decided not to take a knee. All he is saying is he is glad he is part of a sport where nobody is barred from playing because of your race, gender, ethnicity and religion. If you don’t want to recognise the movement then say that and don’t come up with lame excuses. I know that the excuses and reasons are a bit flimsy. They need to come forward with something better than that.

“What Aaron Finch’s comments said to me is that as long as sport is multi-racial then everything is OK. So if the apartheid regime in South Africa had allowed multi-racial sport but kept the apartheid laws then everything would have been OK? No it wouldn’t have.

“Education is important but you can’t just do nothing else. You have to keep the awareness going. Someone sees a person kneeling and they ask why. It keeps it going and going. The England football team have continued to do it. All over the world people are doing it. So why have the cricket team stopped? I can’t accept any flimsy excuse.

“I think people need to keep on recognising that things need to change. You can’t just do something for a week or two and think: ‘OK, I’ve done my bit.’ If that’s your attitude don’t bother doing it at all.”

The ECB issued a statement following Holding’s comments: “As an organisation we hugely respect the views of Sky Sports commentator and former West Indies international Michael Holding. Many of cricket’s teams, both domestic and international, took the knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement for their opening games, with the Men’s Test Team continuing throughout the entire series with the West Indies.

“Our response to the Black Lives Matter debate has been to view the issue alongside the whole inclusion and diversity space, to ensure that long-term and sustainable change happens for all communities who are not treated equally. We remain committed to this philosophy.

“England’s men’s and women’s players all remain committed to using their reach and influence to keep promoting inclusion and diversity in perpetuity, for the betterment of cricket and sport. We understand the importance of symbolism, and its power to keep an issue high on the agenda, our goal is to ensure we deliver both reach and change.”

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