Michael Holding
Michael Holding. Photo Credit: Bipin Patel/Cricinfo.

Former West Indies fast-bowler Michael Holding has taken shots at Australia and England for not taking a knee during the recently-concluded T20I series. Athletes and teams around the world have been taking knees in order to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cricketers have also done their bit. When West Indies visited England in July, players from both the teams had taken a knee before the first Test in Southampton. Match officials also took part in the gesture, while both sets of players were carrying a logo on their shirts.

England also took the knee in the one-day international series against Ireland. In the recently-concluded Caribbean Premier League (CPL) too, several players took a knee to show their support for the worldwide movement which calls for an end to racism. However, England and Australia players decided against it.

Aaron Finch, Eoin Morgan, England, Australia, England vs Australia
Aaron Finch and Eoin Morgan (Photo by Gareth Copley-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

And Michael Holding was not at all impressed with it. The legendary pacer, who had given a powerful speech on racism during the England-West Indies series, said that the reason given by Australia skipper Aaron Finch for not taking a knee was ‘lame’.

“The education around it is more important than the protest,” Finch had said on the eve of the T20I series.

“I have spoken to Eoin [Morgan] and we are not going to do specific gestures like it has happened in the past.

“For us, we are really proud to play a game where it is celebrated all around the world and anyone can play it. It doesn’t matter what race, what religion, what nationality you are from. Cricket is a game for everyone and I am really proud about that,” he added.

Michael Holding’s reply:

In a video posted on his YouTube channel, Michael Holding made it clear that he was not at all impressed with Finch’s explanation. Known for his outspoken nature, the West Indies great went as far as mentioning the infamous apartheid regime of South Africa to express his disappointment over Finch’s comments.

“He is saying is that he’s glad that he is part of a sport where no one is barred from playing, irrespective of your race, your gender, your ethnicity, your religion,” said Michael Holding.

“Well, I don’t know any sport where anyone is barred from playing because of anything at all.

“So that’s a pretty lame statement and what that says to me, actually, is that if the apartheid regime in South Africa had allowed multi-racial sport in South Africa and kept the apartheid laws then everything would have been OK,” he added.

He further said he is disappointed teams have not continued with the symbolic gesture in England.

“Now that the West Indies team has gone home, that doesn’t mean that you still shouldn’t be respecting the message and exactly what it stands for,” he said.

“If you go back to when taking a knee started and what it stood for, or stands for, it goes back to Colin Kaepernick in America, who took a knee because he wanted to bring attention to the racism and police brutality against people of colour in that country.

“Yes, it is more acute in the United States than in most other places but people around the entire world took on the mantle of spreading the word and getting this message out that it is time for equality and time for equal justice, and all that.

“It was no longer just a black-versus-white thing; it was a matter of humanity coming together and saying ‘listen, we need everyone to be treated equally’,” he added.