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Chris Jordan: 'Real conversations' are the key for anti-racism message

Fast bowler acknowledges South Africa's reasons for declining to take a knee for BLM movement

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
Chris Jordan, the England fast bowler, says he is confident that cricket's anti-racism message will be continue to be spread through hard work behind the scenes rather than on-field displays of solidarity, after acknowledging South Africa's decision not to take a knee before the start of their upcoming matches against England.
Jordan, one of two black players in the England white-ball squad alongside Jofra Archer, insisted that South Africa's choice "should not be judged from any point of view", after their head coach, Mark Boucher, said that his players had already made their gesture of support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement during a 3TC game in July.
"It's not something that we have to continue to show," Boucher said. "It's something that you have to live... If guys who brought it up are happy with it, that's great, but if they feel we have to do more, that will be a chat and that they are open to express their opinions."
Speaking during a Zoom call from Newlands, Jordan agreed that the biggest driver of change in the game would come through internal dialogue, adding that the issue of racial equality was a frequent topic of conversation in the England dressing room, which also features two players of Pakistani heritage in Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, as well as a number who grew up outside the UK, including the Ireland-born captain, Eoin Morgan.
"I think the situation is very individual," Jordan said. "I think that a lot of real, honest work going on around the matter will be done in private. The real change will come through a lot of those real conversations that you have one-on-one with people, in terms of education. So if that's what they [CSA] as an organisation believe in, then I don't think it should be judged from any point of view. It's their personal decision. So let's just move on."
Nevertheless, South Africa's decision is bound to come under scrutiny, given the country's racially divided history, and also in light of the criticism that Australia and Pakistan attracted on their recent tour of England, when they too declined to take a knee, in contrast to England's matches involving West Indies and Ireland.
The decision attracted strong criticism from Michael Holding, the former West Indies fast bowler and outspoken BLM advocate in his role as a Sky Sports commentator, who described Australia's excuses in particular as "lame".
Justin Langer, their head coach, subsequently conceded that the issue had not been given enough consideration in the lead-up to the England tour, and it has since been announced that the squad will stand in a barefoot circle ahead of their series against India, in recognition of the anti-racism movement and of Australia's indigenous people.
Asked if such gestures still have an impact, Jordan insisted they did "100%", but reiterated the need to be open-minded about how different teams and individuals go about recognising such a sensitive topic.
"Obviously taking the knee is something very visual, that people see when they turn on sport and watch, but I'm a big believer in a lot of the real conversations that are happening behind the scenes, especially amongst our group, as a team.
"We come from so many different backgrounds, and the matter is at the forefront of everyone's mind. The type of questions that are being put forward, and the real conversations that are happening behind the scenes, is where a lot of the real change will come."
He believes that the same is true of another race-related issue to have come to light in English cricket in recent days - the failure of the ECB to encourage the career development of BAME umpires, which led the former Test official John Holder to accuse the board of institutional racism.
"First and foremost, the situation is what it is," Jordan said. "There's always more that we all can do, especially as an organisation. But you can't change the past, all you can do is try to affect everything that's coming in the future.
"It's an area that has been highlighted, so time will tell in terms of the impact that we can have, as a society, to change that."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @miller_cricket