Eng­land and West Indies to take a knee

➤ Play­ers agree on show of unity as Test cricket re­turns ➤ Broad set to be axed as home side look to Archer and Wood

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Tim Wig­more

Eng­land and West Indies will take a knee for 30 sec­onds be­fore the start of the first Test to­day in a uni­fied show of sup­port with the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment.

Both teams had al­ready an­nounced that they would wear a Black Lives Mat­ter logo on their shirts for the three-match se­ries.

Now they have agreed to kneel be­fore play at the Ageas Bowl, believing it will be a pow­er­ful sym­bol against racial in­equal­ity that could res­onate in the sport­ing world and be­yond.

The In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil has pro­hib­ited po­lit­i­cal sym­bols or state­ments dur­ing games, but has al­ready said that it does not re­gard protest­ing against racism as a po­lit­i­cal state­ment, so will not pun­ish the teams.

While de­clin­ing to say whether his side would take a knee, stand-in Test cap­tain Ben Stokes said: “There is go­ing to be a ges­ture shown from us as a team in sup­port of Black Lives Mat­ter to­wards the equal­ity in so­ci­ety through­out cricket and through­out sport.

“I feel as a team that we have an op­por­tu­nity to send a real pow­er­ful mes­sage, and I am re­ally ex­cited as an in­di­vid­ual and the team is re­ally ex­cited that we are able to be a part of that.

“We aren’t in any way, shape or form show­ing sup­port to­wards any po­lit­i­cal mat­ters on the move­ment.

“We are all about the equal­ity through so­ci­ety and sport. With­out the di­ver­sity that we have shown as a team over how­ever many years, and the equal­ity that needs to be given, we might not be World Cup cham­pi­ons, we might not be one of the best Test teams in the world.

“We have a great chance to send a real pow­er­ful mes­sage and to ed­u­cate peo­ple more on the mat­ter.”

Stokes said that Eng­land were build­ing to­wards re­turn­ing to Test No1 as he pre­pared to stand in for Joe Root as Eng­land’s 81st Test cap­tain.

“We have a goal of be­ing the best team in the world, so we are build­ing to­wards that,” Stokes said.

“If you are not per­form­ing well as a player, there is some­one who is right be­hind you to come in, which is a great place to be at.”

In a sign of how com­pet­i­tive the bowl­ing group now is, last night Eng­land were lean­ing heav­ily to­wards omit­ting Stu­art Broad from the side and se­lect­ing both Jofra Archer and Mark Wood along­side James An­der­son. Eng­land have pri­ori­tised a var­ied at­tack as they build on the 3-1 Test vic­tory in South Africa. Wood took 12 wick­ets at 13.58 in the last two Tests of that se­ries, mount­ing a com­pelling case to re­tain his place.

Broad has not missed a home Test since 2012, when he was rested against West Indies. His form has

not dipped, hav­ing taken 52 wick­ets at 24.07 since the start of 2019, and, even if he is omit­ted, he is cer­tain to fea­ture later this sum­mer.

Chris Woakes, the other seamer set to be left out, will also be in­volved dur­ing Eng­land’s run of six Tests in seven weeks. Omit­ting spin­ner Dom Bess and pick­ing a five-man seam at­tack is an­other op­tion, but it is un­likely be­cause the Ageas Bowl wicket of­fered some turn dur­ing the warm-up games.

“It’s not very of­ten we have been in this sit­u­a­tion where we have six or seven bowlers we could choose from,” Stokes said.

“It ob­vi­ously gives the cap­tain and the se­lec­tors an ab­so­lute night­mare be­cause you can only pick so many. From the big­ger pic­ture, it’s a great place to be in as a team.

“I feel as if we are in a po­si­tion now with the Test team like we were with the one-day team in 2015 when we were build­ing for that World Cup.

“I feel as if we are build­ing for the Ashes in Aus­tralia and also In­dia.”

‘Joe has been very open and will­ing to lis­ten to ad­vice. I would be stupid to go away from that.’

Ahead of his first Test as cap­tain, Stokes has been dis­cussing the role with Root, who misses the Test for the birth of his sec­ond child.

“Rooty just left a mes­sage on the hanger which said, ‘Do it your way’,” Stokes said.

“It was just a bit of pa­per over the top of the hanger, I wasn’t re­ally ex­pect­ing it. It was a re­ally nice mes­sage to re­ceive and nice for Joe to think about me do­ing it for the first time. There’s been a lot of opin­ions fly­ing around, but that was a re­ally nice thought.

“I haven’t been on him too much, but I am sure when the Test match starts, I know for a fact he will be at home watch­ing and I know that his phone will al­ways be avail­able for me to get in con­tact with him if I need to.

“I said when I first got asked that

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