Black Lives Matter: South Africa not taking a knee and opportunity missed, says Neil Manthorp
Proteas squad remains committed to anti-racism and could still make a yet-to-be disclosed statement ahead of Friday's first Twenty20 against England, but the players will not take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement
Last Updated: 26/11/20 3:42pm
South Africa's decision not to take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement ahead of the first T20 against England does "feel like an opportunity missed", says journalist Neil Manthorp.
The Proteas issued a statement on Wednesday saying the squad had reached a unanimous decision not to take a knee, explaining that its commitment to anti-racism "is a process, not an event".
The decision has drawn stinging criticism in some quarters ahead of South Africa's first international match since the death of George Floyd - writer Firdose Moonda describing it as "tone-deaf" on espncricinfo.com.
"I can see that point of view very clearly," Manthorp told Sky Sports Cricket in an interview with Mike Atherton that you can watch in full by clicking on the video above.
"Given South Africa's apartheid history, the Black Lives Matter movement is of paramount importance.
"But not just George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, but here in South Africa former Proteas players have spoken about the disenfranchisement they've felt and the loneliness.
"So it does feel very, very much like an opportunity missed. But unless somebody breaks ranks and tells us what was said in the team meeting then I believe that we owe it to them to take their word as a unit.
"Coach Mark Boucher and then Kagiso Rabada has said that it was a team decision. But if there were players who wanted to take a knee as individuals I would have hoped they would have been allowed to do that.
"I can't see a reason why not but it's a complicated issue and it's probably even more complicated in South Africa than perhaps in other countries.
"But if the squad have said that it was a unanimous decision not to take a knee but they take it seriously, it means a great deal to all of them and they are going to live it rather than have a gesture to show it then I think we should probably take their word for it."
- Watch South Africa vs England on Sky Sports
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- South Africa vs England homepage
England white-ball tour to South Africa
- Nov 27: First T20I, Cape Town (4pm start)
- Nov 29: Second T20I, Paarl (12.30pm start)
- Dec 1: Third T20I, Cape Town (4pm start)
- Dec 4: First ODI, Cape Town (11am start)
- Dec 6: Second ODI, Paarl (8am start)
- Dec 9: Third ODI, Cape Town (11am start)
Both South Africa and England will wear black armbands at Newlands on Friday in a mark of respect for those affected by the coronavirus; the armbands will also offer a show of support for a current campaign in South Africa raising awareness about violence against women.
In our interview, Manthorp also gave his initial response to the publication on Wednesday by the interim board of Cricket South Africa of the full Fundudzi Forensic Report, revealing multiple failings in the administration of South African cricket over many years.
"It is item after item after item, page after page after page of maladministration, lack of oversight.
"There are pages and pages and pages of credit card statements, which would indicate that spending was completely out of control.
"We are not talking about cricket balls and equipment - we're talking about champagne bars and restaurants and big nights out.
"The former chief executive spent a lot of money on his birthday party when they were down here in Cape Town - so just a complete lack of control and, I'm afraid, lack of management and administration."
Watch every game of England's white-ball tour of South Africa live on Sky Sports Cricket, starting with the first T20 from 3.30pm on Friday.