The Proteas formally announced on Wednesday that, after much internal discussion and engagement, they have decided not to take a knee to show their support for Black Lives Matter during their white-ball series against England that starts on Friday evening.
In what was described as an “official Proteas statement”, the team said their decision to not take a knee, which is the opposite of what they did for the 3TCricket launch in July, was not influenced by management nor the coaches, but was entirely the will of the players as a whole.
“As a team, we have unanimously chosen not to take the knee at the upcoming matches, but to continue to work together in our personal, team and public spaces to dismantle racism,” the statement read.
“This decision was taken by the team collectively, after deep dialogue and attentive consideration. This is not a decision compelled on us by either our management or our coaches.
“Let us be clear, our team decision on not taking the knee does not indicate that we do not care about racism, racial equality, or justice. Now, more than ever, we are committed to this work.”
Instead of an outward show of support for BLM, the Proteas said they would be wearing black armbands in support of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, during which the series will be played, saying GBV was the issue that mattered at the moment.
“On 11 November, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would embark on five days of national mourning for the victims of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Covid-19. We, the Proteas, have taken the decision to answer the call by wearing black armbands during our next games, which fall during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” the statement read.
“This is an act of solidarity in response to a particular issue that the country is focusing its attention on during the next two weeks.”
The Proteas acknowledged that even though their focus needed to be on winning cricket matches, they were a part of society and the terrible issues that affected many South Africans.
But they took a swipe at those sections of the media which had been pressurising the team to take a knee during the England series.
“Our first job is to play cricket for the country but we are also citizens of this country. The Proteas team is a community within the wider community of South Africa. The conversations that are happening in the country as a whole are conversations we must be engaging with as a team. The issues that are facing the country as a whole are issues that must matter to us as a team.
“Likewise, the actions and decisions we take as a team have impact on the country as a whole. We do not take this responsibility lightly. We ask in turn that our wider community honours the process we have engaged in over the last six months.”