Cricket news - CSA ponders "effective, authentic, meaningful" BLM messaging

Graeme Smith spoke of the need to take a stand on the 'Black Lives Matter' campaign amidst the backdrop of the ENG-WI Test

Graeme Smith spoke of the need to take a stand on the 'Black Lives Matter' campaign amidst the backdrop of the ENG-WI Test

South Africa carries more resonance for Black Lives Matter (BLM) than most countries, but cricket here has yet to decide how to add its voice to the overarching global debate. After Lungi Ngidi made plain his feelings of support for the movement, Graeme Smith said the practicalities needed to be finalised.

The England and West Indies players wore BLM logos on their collars and took a knee before the first ball was bowled in their Test Series, which started in Southampton on Wednesday. Umpires Richard Kettleborough and Richard Illingworth - effectively the ICC's official representatives on the field - did likewise. The Windies' players wore black gloves on their raised right fists as they knelt, echoing the human rights salute US Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave as they stood on the podium in Mexico City in 1968.

Those measures would no doubt have met with Ngidi's approval. He was asked during an online press conference on Monday whether South Africa's players would back BLM, and replied: "That's definitely something that we will discuss once we are together in person. We have spoken about it and everyone is well aware of what's going on. It's a difficult one because we are not together, so it's hard to discuss. But once we get back to playing that is definitely something we have to address as a team.

"As a nation as well, we have a past that is very difficult because of racial discrimination. So it's definitely something we will be addressing as a team and if we are not, it's something I will bring up. It's something that we need to take very seriously and, like the rest of the world is doing, make a stand."

At another online presser, on Wednesday, director of cricket Smith answered a question on the matter by saying: "We are very aware of what's going on around the world and of our role at CSA [Cricket South Africa]. Lungi answered it very well when he said we are all in our own little pockets, and I think it's important that in the future we all come together and figure out how we can play our role in the BLM movement; how we can be effective in doing that.

"My belief in these things is that it's important to have buy-in and that of everyone invested in it as well, and I have no doubt that will be the case. But the discussion in each team environment and as CSA about how we handle it going forward is important. We do have the 3TC approaching on Mandela Day, where we are doing a lot for charity, and that will be our first occasion with the BLM movement. But as far as our iconic men's and women's teams are concerned there needs to be discussion.

"We're discussing various ways of handling it. The kit has gone to print already. We need to figure out how we can be effective about it as well, also authentic, and spread the messages that are meaningful to us as South Africans as well. And how that affects us on a daily basis."

South Africa's players have not been in the dressing room together since March 12 in Dharamsala, where the first of what were to have been three T20Is against India was washed out. The rest of the tour was called off shortly afterwards because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Something like cricket will return on July 18 - which would have been Mandela's 102nd birthday - when three teams of eight players will play a single match of 36 overs in Centurion in a new format called 3TC that has been devised by Paul Harris, a South African banker. Proceeds from the Solidarity Cup, which organisers hope will reach USD177,000, will go to charity.

The venture was met with derision because of its complicated rules and novelty, but it will take a great leap towards respectability if it treats BLM with due seriousness. While logos on shirts seem unlikely, a few on the outfield, for instance, would make a significant impact.