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South Africa to make anti-racism statement ahead of England series after BLM criticism

Team will not take a knee but has decided to demonstrate commitment to inclusion

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
South Africa's men's team hasn't played any cricket since its aborted tour of India in March  •  Getty Images

South Africa's men's team hasn't played any cricket since its aborted tour of India in March  •  Getty Images

The South Africa men's team will make a statement of anti-racism when they take on England in the white-ball series starting Friday. Their action, which will not be the taking of a knee, has been unanimously agreed on by all members of the squad and will demonstrate their commitment to inclusion.
A source close to the team told ESPNcricinfo that the decision was made in the last few days, upon reflection, after their stance on not taking a knee was made public and widely criticised. They will also be wearing black armbands in support of the fight against gender-based violence and to mourn the lives lost to coronavirus.
South Africa's revised position comes after coach Mark Boucher initially indicated that the team would not make any gestures in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement because they felt it was "not something that we have to continue to show, it's something you have to live." That was followed by Kagiso Rabada confirming he was "100%" in support of BLM but that the team had collectively made a decision not to take a knee. Rassie van der Dussen was then prevented from answering a question on the subject by CSA.
By Wednesday, former national fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, who took a knee alongside current director of cricket Graeme Smith at the 3TC match in July, told TimesLive he felt Smith should instruct the taking of a knee again as the international season begins. That afternoon the players sent out a statement reiterating their commitment to dismantling racism but saying that they regarded it as a "process, not an event".
The statement did not rule out the making of any gestures, but the rhetoric earlier in the week had appeared to. However, the team have since sought to find other ways to show their support for racial equality and will demonstrate them on Friday.
Insiders confirmed that several members within the team were against taking a knee for religious reasons, as it thought that kneeling is an act to be done only before God, but that a new solution has been found.
England's players, who took a knee during their home series against West Indies and Ireland, but not for the visits of Pakistan and Australia, are likely to support South Africa in whatever gesture they perform. ESPNcricinfo understands they will also be wearing black armbands in solidarity with CSA on GBV and Covid-19.
"As a team, as a squad, across all three formats, we've spoken about how we can create meaningful change over a period of time that is extremely authentic to every player and staff member within our group," Eoin Morgan, England's captain, said. "When we put our weight and our voice behind something, we feel that's extremely powerful."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent