Cricket is finally ready to make its return in the wake of coronavirus as England and West Indies are all set to face each other in the first Test of the three-match series starting on Wednesday at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
Meanwhile, the England cricket team will be seen displaying their support for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement by wearing its logo on their shirts during the series. This decision was backed by Test captain Joe Root and all-rounder Ben Stokes, who will lead the side in the first Test in the absence of Root. Before this, the West Indies had already confirmed they would be wearing the logo.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison made it clear that the support for BLM movement did not mean to fulfil any kind of political aims. The International Cricket Council (ICC) doesn’t allow players to wear clothing or equipment bearing political or religious messaging unless it is agreed by the respective boards as well as the ICC itself. In this case, all three bodies agreed, and that’s why players from both teams will wear the BLM logo.
“The England and Wales Cricket Board fully support the message that Black Lives Matter. It has become a message of solidarity and a drive for progress and societal change. There can be no place for racism in society or our sport, and we must do more to tackle it. Our support of that message is not an endorsement, tacit or otherwise, of any political organisation, nor the backing of any group that calls for violence or condones illegal activity,” said Harrison.
Apart from wearing the logo, English cricketers will also show a gesture of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. England’s stand-in skipper Stokes confirmed the match would begin with an act of solidarity to the cause.
“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 sport,” Stokes said as quoted by SkySports.
“We aren’t in any way, shape or form showing support towards any political matters on the movement. We are all about equality through society and sport. Not only has this been a period for us getting ready for a Test match, but it has also been great for us to have some educational chats as a team around this which has been really beneficial for a lot of our members. Mark Saxby, our masseur, has been at the forefront of that and he’s done an absolutely brilliant job,” he added.
The 29-year-old also stated that the diversity that the English cricket team carries is their biggest strength. Stokes said that his team can send a powerful message and educate people regarding the subject.
“I feel like a team that we have an opportunity to send a compelling message. I am excited as an individual, and the team is really excited that we can be a part of that. 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 really powerful message and to educate people more on the matter,” Stokes added further.