Political activism cricketers’ own decision – Holding
Former Windies fast bowler, now pundit, Michael Holding, has commented on whether cricketers should use their platform to speak up on racial injustice.
With recent global protests led by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement after the death of George Floyd and other black persons in the United States, various athletes have not only given their thoughts on the matter, but joined in on the activism in their field of play. This includes current Windies Test captain Jason Holder, and former skipper Daren Sammy.
Holder recently said that the Windies, now preparing for a three-Test series against hosts England, should use BLM as a motivator for the series, while Sammy has called for more to be done by cricket’s world governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), and other members of the sport’s fraternity.
While many have backed the comments by both men, with calls for more vocal support by other cricketers, there have been concerns raised in several sections that some cricketers are primarily focused on making a living for themselves and their families from the sport.
Holding says whatever players choose to do is solely their prerogative.
“I don’t think cricketers can just be placed in a general category,” he said. “You will have some that are just doing a job and don’t care about anything else, and some that will be politically conscious. But that’s not just today.
“During the apartheid days, some just looked at going to South Africa as doing a job and getting paid, while others wouldn’t and didn’t go.”
Holding is referring to what was called the ‘Rebel Tour’ of South Africa between 1982 and 1990, where a number of West Indian cricketers overlooked overt racism in the country to play a lucrative series of games, which did not get the backing of the ICC. He and many of his Windies teammates, however, rejected the opportunity in a show of solidarity with oppressed black South Africans.
Throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, Holding and his teammates were respected not only for their prowess on the field, but also for how they represented Caribbean unity, given their political ideologies.
However, Holding says it will take more than the current team’s political awareness to strengthen its fan support, which has dwindled in recent times.
“Support for the team won’t come until they start to perform better,” he said. “It’s human nature, everybody loves a winner.”
The Windies will wear a BLM logo on the collars of their new jerseys made by British brand Castore throughout the series, which begins at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England, on Wednesday.