When Lungi Ngidi said that he wanted the Proteas to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement in June, it set off a bomb in South African cricket. Picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters
When Lungi Ngidi said that he wanted the Proteas to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement in June, it set off a bomb in South African cricket. Picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters

Proteas want ’Black Lives Matter’ to shine through their own lives

By Stuart Hess Time of article published Nov 19, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - The Proteas men’s team may wear black armbands as a mark of respect for the more than 20 000 people who’ve died of Covid-19 in South Africa and to raise awareness about gender based violence during their upcoming series against England.

However the team believes it has done enough to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement and it is unlikely they will ‘take a knee’ before the matches against England.

Mark Boucher, the team’s head coach, said Thursday that he’d talked to Lungi Ngidi, who initiated the discussions within the team about the Black Lives Matter social movement earlier this year, and the big fast bowler was happy with where the team was at the moment regarding showing solidarity with the cause.

“(Lungi) was happy that we’ve done what we needed to do especially at that particular game ( the 3TC match in July),” said Boucher.

When Ngidi said that he wanted the Proteas to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement in June, it set off a bomb in South African cricket.

Initially he was criticised by former national players including Pat Symcox, Boeta Dippenaar and Rudi Steyn and then retired players including Makhaya Ntini and Ashwell Prince revealed heartbreaking tales of discrimination they’d suffered during their careers.

At that 3TC match, all the players, along with CSA officials, including Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith all knelt before the match started to show their support for BLM.

“It's an on-going thing,” said Boucher. “It’s not something that you show, it’s something that you have to live, which is exactly what we are trying to do in our dressing room at the moment, with a big squad.

“If the guys who brought it up feel we have to do more, then they will bring it up and that is a chat we will certainly have.”

“They are open to express their opinions. Our new value system is about respect, empathy and belonging and all of those lead to an environment where guys are free to talk about these hard issues and they certainly have the empathy, support and respect from everyone within the unit.”

The players will have discussions regarding the wearing of black armbands to align with a call from president Cyril Ramaphosa to show recognition for those who have died of the coronavirus and to raise awareness about gender-based violence.

“We will be addressing this as a team, so that if we do wear black armbands it will be because of the president’s call.”

Boucher said he’d contracted Covid-19 earlier this year, and while the affects weren’t severe, it certainly raised his awareness about the dangers of the virus and the need to provide support for those suffering with it. “I was one of the lucky ones, I didn’t know I had it,” he said. “I felt a little down for a couple of days, my body was feeling aches and pains while throwing balls to guys and I just thought it was because I hadn’t thrown balls for such a long time. Thankfully, I didn’t get it badly, it lasted a few days and it was done.”

One member of the South African squad, tested positive, but is not in the hotel where the players are staying, and along with two others are currently isolated from the rest of the squad.

“There’s a bigger picture, we are just happy to be back playing cricket, but we’ve made ourselves prepare for this type of situation, it does affect us, but it is about the welfare of those players. It is a very tough thing to go through, I went through it, the care factor needs to be there for those guys sitting alone in rooms for 10 days, which is quite tough.”

* Warriors duo, Marco Marais and Stefan Tait were added to the extended training squad on Thursday for the two inter-squad matches which will take place ahead of the T20 series against England.

@shockerhess

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