All players from the England and West Indies teams take a knee before their first Test at the Ageas Bowl in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, as Test cricket returns after coronavirus lockdown
- England and West Indies players took a knee before before their first Test
- Cricket players followed football in showing solidarity with Black Lives Matter
- Ben Stokes said England would make a ‘gesture’ in support of the movement
- First Test is taking place behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday
England and West Indies players showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement by taking a knee together before their first Test at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday.
The gesture, which has become synonymous with the BLM movement, has been made before the start of Premier League games since the season resumed last month. Formula One drivers also took a knee before Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.
As cricket returned to action for the first time since lockdown, players on both sides followed suit in displaying solidarity after talks between stand-in England captain Ben Stokes and his counterpart Jason Holder.
England and West Indies players took a knee before the start of their first Test on Wednesday
Cricket stars followed football and F1 in making the gesture to support Black Lives Matter
England captain Ben Stokes said it was important to show a ‘powerful message’ before the Test
Rain had delayed the start of the match behind closed doors, but conditions later cleared with England winning the toss and opting to bat before a minute’s silence to remember the victims of the coronavirus and legendary West Indies batsman Sir Everton Weekes – who died last week.
And just before proceedings finally got underway all players and coaching staff in the bowl took a knee, with some raising their arms in the air.
England players not batting got involved in the gesture outside the boundary line.
England players not batting took a knee outside the boundary line before the start of play
Both teams had agreed to show their support before the match held behind closed doors
The BLM logo — designed by Watford footballer Troy Deeney’s partner Alisha Hosannah — will be worn on the collar of England and West Indies players throughout the three-match #raisethebat series.
Prior to the first Test, England players had vowed to display their support for the movement. Writing in his Sportsmail column, Jofra Archer revealed that the England dressing room is intent on a longer-term commitment to raising awareness.
‘We want to show our support long after this series is over. It might not just be wearing the BLM logo but doing other things,’ Archer said.
‘What happens going forward is still up in the air but should be sorted by the end of the summer.’
Jofra Archer has pledged that England’s support of Black Lives Matter is a long-term promise
Stokes had promised England would send ‘a powerful message’ and show support for diversity and equality.
‘There’s going to be a gesture from us in support of Black Lives Matter,’ he said. ‘We aren’t showing support towards any political matters. We’re all about the inequality in society.
‘We have an opportunity to send a powerful message and I’m really excited that we’re able to be a part of that. Without the diversity we’ve shown as a team over however many years we might not be World Cup champions and one of the best Test teams in the world.’
Englan players warmed up with the names of doctors on their training shirts at the Ageas Bowl
England players warmed up at the Ageas Bowl with the names of key workers on their training shirts as part of an initiative to acknowledge them for their hard work and bravery during the pandemic.
Captain Ben Stokes wore the name of Dr Vikas Kumar, a specialist in anaesthetics and critical care at Darlington Memorial Hospital.
‘We’re only able to play this Test match because of the amazing job that key workers up and down the country have done to help us through this pandemic,’ Stokes said.
‘Wearing their names is a real honour for us, and is a small sign of our appreciation for the incredible work they have done.
‘They have truly gone in to bat for us all, and it makes me proud of how the whole cricket family has responded to help us get through these unprecedented times.’
Dr Kumar admitted the show of appreciation was ‘a wonderful surprise’.
The idea was aimed at showing appreciation to those on the frontlines during the pandemic
‘The past four months have been very difficult, but it was a wonderful surprise to find out that Ben Stokes of all people is wearing my name on his training shirt, he said.
‘So many of my colleagues at work and at the cricket club have been working so hard and made big sacrifices, so this is for them as well.’
Tom Harrison, ECB Chief Executive Officer, said: ‘Along with fans up and down the country, we are very excited that our England Men’s players are back on the cricket field today. However, we will never forget those we’ve lost and the sacrifices made by so many people during this pandemic.
‘Key workers and volunteers across the country have often put their own lives on the line to keep us safe, and it’s right that today we say a small thank you to some of those from the cricket family who have done us so proud.’