England will join the West Indies in wearing “Black Lives Matter” logos on their shirts during their three-match Test series, but the England and Wales Cricket Board insisted yesterday that “it is not an endorsement of a political organisation”.
The tourists had previously announced they would be wearing the logo which is also being worn by Premier League footballers.
The ECB said its decision had been “fully supported” by England players led by Test captain Joe Root and stand-in skipper Ben Stokes.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison made it clear, however, the move showed support for “progress and societal change” and did not extend to explicit backing for any wider political aims.
“It has become a message of solidarity and a drive for progress and societal change,” he said. “There can be no place for racism in society or our sport, and we must do more to tackle it.”
But he added: “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.
“We are aware of certain aspects of the movement that promote their own political views, and their actions are not supported in any way by the ECB and our players.”
It is understood, however, that the England squad will not take a knee ahead of the first Test, which starts in Southampton on July 8.
West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, who will be commentating on the series for the BBC, said, however, it would require more than taking a knee to tackle deep-rooted racism.
“For me it’s just cosmetic – that may ruffle a few feathers,” said Brathwaite, the star of the West Indies’ 2016 World Twenty20 triumph.
“The biggest change needs to be legislative and needs to be the reprogramming of the wider society.”
The third Test between England and the West Indies will be dedicated to the work of the Ruth Strauss Foundation, which raises money for families facing the death of a parent from cancer.
The second day of the match at Old Trafford, July 25, will see the return of the #RedForRuth initiative, which began during last year’s Ashes clash at Lord’s and raised more than £550,000 ($690,000) for the charity.
But while that match saw a capacity crowd of 28,500, the absence of spectators from this month’s bio-secure series means fans will instead be encouraged to dress in red as they follow the play from Manchester at home.
Players will again wear red caps, with the colour also appearing on shirts, stumps and boundary boards around the ground. Former England captain Andrew Strauss established the foundation after the death of his wife Ruth, aged 46, in 2018 from a rare form of lung cancer affecting non-smokers. “Last year I was humbled and honoured by the support of the wider cricket family,” Strauss said in a statement issued Thursday.
“We sincerely hope that the incredible display of generosity and community spirit will continue as we look to turn cricket ‘Red for Ruth’ for a second year to support the Ruth Strauss Foundation.”
England captain Joe Root said: “Andrew is a true legend of our sport and it is almost impossible to imagine what he and his family went through.
“Cricket plays a massive part in so many lives and together we can help other families facing these same devastating circumstances.”
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