Play­ers stop tak­ing the knee as fo­cus turns to drive for di­ver­sity

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

Eng­land have be­come the first pro­fes­sional team in the UK who had been tak­ing the knee in sup­port of the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment to stop do­ing so.

Both Eng­land and the West Indies took the knee through­out their three-match Test se­ries last month. The teams and their sup­port staff made the ges­ture in uni­son be­fore the first ball of the three-Test se­ries fol­low­ing talks dur­ing the build-up.

Eng­land and Ire­land also took the knee dur­ing their one-day in­ter­na­tional se­ries, but nei­ther Eng­land nor Pak­istan took the knee be­fore the open­ing day’s play at Emi­rates Old Traf­ford.

The Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board con­firmed that they will now stop tak­ing the knee. “The play­ers wore the Black Lives Mat­ter logo and took the knee through­out the West Indies se­ries in sol­i­dar­ity and re­spect to the mes­sage and our ri­vals,” said an ECB spokesper­son.

“It re­mains a hugely im­por­tant is­sue for both the ECB and the play­ers, as there is no place for dis­crim­i­na­tion of any kind in cricket or so­ci­ety. The ECB is con­tin­u­ing to de­velop plans and con­sult with the game to make cricket more in­clu­sive and di­verse, and we re­cently set out a range of ac­tion we are tak­ing to ad­dress some of the feed­back we’ve re­ceived as we seek to drive real change.”

As The Daily Tele­graph re­vealed in June, the num­ber of black Bri­tish crick­eters in the men’s first-class game has de­clined from 33 in 1994 to nine last sea­son. There has been only one black Bri­tish head coach of a county this cen­tury, Mark Al­leyne. Al­leyne, who won two tro­phies in his four sea­sons with Glouces­ter­shire, has said that “the num­bers are dis­gust­ing”.

Last month, the ECB an­nounced a raft of ini­tia­tives to in­crease di­ver­sity in the sport. It launched a game-wide anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion char­ter and code, de­clared its am­bi­tion to make lead­er­ship and gov­er­nance more di­verse and cre­ated a new bur­sary for fu­ture black coaches.

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